Imperial Tobacco’s trade communications manager answers questions on the smoking ban...

== How was the tobacco market performing in the immediate run-up to the ban on smoking in enclosed public places? ==

Last year adult smokers spent over £13bn on products. Around 50 billion duty paid cigarettes were sold through UK retail outlets, with £25,000-a-minute being spent on tobacco by adults who choose to smoke.

== Are there any indications about how the tobacco category may perform once the ban kicks in? ==

We’ve been monitoring the effects of smoking restrictions in Ireland and Scotland to gain some insight. Trends in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland have been in line with our long-held prediction that tobacco sales would dip initially but then recover over time. Imperial Tobacco expects the same to happen within the English tobacco market.

Total tobacco sales across Ireland have increased by 1.4% for the 12 months to September 2006, and sales in Scotland have recovered over time from an initial decline. Adult smokers in Scotland have evolved their behaviour and are now smoking only around half a cigarette less each per day

== What are the key learnings from the impact of the ban in Ireland and Scotland? ==

The biggest change was the place where adult smokers made their purchases, with volumes shifting from vending and pubs to c-stores, forecourts and multiples. The forecourt channel in the Republic of Ireland claimed an extra 0.5% of the tobacco category after restrictions on smoking in public places were introduced.

== What trends are developing as a result of the restrictions? ==

The smoking ban has changed adult smokers’ social patterns with trends now showing a tendency for adult smokers to indulge in a ’big night in’. So rather than go out to a pub, adult smokers are stocking up on associated purchases such as alcohol, snacks and confectionery and staying in, providing an opportunity for forecourts. We expect a similar pattern to occur in Wales, Northern Ireland and England

Adult smokers are also now more likely to move between pubs, so they can smoke while they walk to their next drinking destination. Any forecourts with pubs in their local vicinity should ensure their tobacco category is effectively merchandised to meet the evolving preferences and purchasing behaviour of any potential new customers.

== How can Imperial’s sales force help retailers through this important introductory period? ==

We have equipped our salesforce with the latest regulatory information in order that they may assist retailers over any regulatory hurdle. Furthermore 24-hour expertise can be sought from our website []

== Do you have any pointers on how forecourts in England can ensure their tobacco sales continue to thrive after July 1? ==

Forecourt retailers need to keep up with local trends as tobacco is a category with huge regional variances. Local really does mean local in tobacco - over 60% of an average store’s tobacco turnover comes from people living within 440 yards of the shop. They also need to understand the value of adult smokers to their business - they visit forecourts more regularly than non-smokers and spend more while they are there.

== What advice would Imperial Tobacco give to forecourts in implementing the ban in the workplace? ==

As smoking is banned on forecourts, adult smokers will not be allowed to smoke on the forecourt or in the store. Most of the major forecourts already ban smoking from anywhere on their sites for health and safety reasons. Any forecourts that employ smokers are advised to tell them to leave the boundaries of the forecourt if they wish to smoke.