Just under half of cigarette smokers (49%) and 60% of roll your own (RYO) tobacco smokers are totally unaware of the impending changes to tobacco pack sizes, formats and branding, according to a new survey by the Tobacco Manufacturers Association (TMA).

From 20 May, manufacturers are required to stop producing tobacco in small, branded, or pricemarked packs as part of the new European Tobacco Products Directive (EUTPD), and separate plain packaging legislation.

However, a new survey of 2,200 adult smokers by the TMA has highlighted low levels of awareness of the changes.

Almost a quarter of RYO smokers and 16% of cigarette smokers said they would source their cigarettes from non-UK duty paid sources once the legislation had come into force.

The findings came in the same week that the Tobacco Retailers’ Alliance (TRA) launched its new ‘Scrap the Tobacco Tax Escalator’ campaign in Westminster.

TRA national spokesman Suleman Khonat was joined by fellow independent retailer and TRA spokesperson Mahendra Jadeja to bring its new campaign to the attention of the treasury and parliamentarians.

Suleman said: “The TRA is calling on the government to scrap the 2% above inflation tobacco duty escalator at the upcoming Budget. Tobacco taxes increased by more than 40% over the course of the last Parliament, leading to many UK smokers buying their tobacco illegally or from other non-shop sources.

“Retailers like me are already suffering from the burden of successive pieces of tobacco legislation. The last thing we need is more tax on tobacco products, which will drive up prices and push people into the illegal market. Illegal tobacco hurts retailers, taxpayers and the community. That’s why the Government should scrap the tobacco tax escalator.”