Smoking ban is good for off-trade

The off-trade could see drinks volumes rise by as much as 8 per cent as a direct result of the smoking ban which comes into force in England on Sunday.

In Scotland's first year under the smoking ban, on-trade alcohol volumes were down 5 per cent - and most of this decline was blamed by Nielsen on the new law.

If the ban has a similar effect in England and Wales, it would equate to a 4 per cent on-trade decline and a volume increase of 8 per cent in the off-trade.

Drinks companies are already predicting a rise in off-trade sales when the ban goes live in England, after Scottish off-licences picked up trade when the ban was introduced there.

Craig Clarkson, S&N UK head of customer marketing for the off-trade, said: "The smoking ban will accelerate the growth of take-home sales, particularly in the short term as consumers and licensees come to terms with the legislation."

Bavaria UK has seen healthy off-trade sales figures in Scotland. Sales director Mike Teague said: "Early indications suggest that the smoking ban in Scotland hasn't affected off-trade sales negatively - if anything, sales figures have increased due to more consumers choosing to stay at home and drink with family and friends. We anticipate this will also happen in England.

"And it isn't just us who foresee increased sales. Our off-trade customers are telling us that they are now stocking up in preparation for the smoking ban."

The Tobacco Manufacturers' Association believes England and Wales will follow the same pattern as Ireland and Scotland where the predicted "meltdown" in tobacco sales has not materialised.

Director Colin Ogden said: "It is clear that smokers continue to choose to smoke - they adapt to the new rules and, after an initial dip in consumption, sales volumes recover."