A ban on small packets of cigarettes and rolling tobacco could result in millions of pounds being erased from convenience store balance sheets, a report by the independent forecaster Oxford Economics claims.
The proposals to ban cigarettes in packs of less than 20 and rolling tobacco (RYO) in packs of less than 20g are contained in the EU Tobacco Products Directive, which is currently making its way through the EU parliament.
Forcing adult smokers to buy larger packs would mean they visited shops stores less frequently, with trips to shops predicted to fall by 13%, according to the report, which is based on a Tobacco Manufacturers Association (TMA) survey of 2,000 adult smokers.
The report found that a quarter of cigarette smokers currently buy packs of 10, and one in three purchase small packs of RYO. In addition, nearly a quarter of smokers said they currently bought tobacco from convenience stores every day, while half said they made four or more visits a week.
With 94% of adult smokers always buying other goods such as newspapers and snacks along with their tobacco, turnover from associated purchases would also be hit, it warned.
One in 10 adult smokers said they would not visit their local shop at all, if they didn’t need to purchase tobacco. According to mid-point estimates, the move would wipe around £561m off convenience stores’ turnover, and could potentially result in more than 2,000 job losses.
The survey also suggests that around 25% of smokers who currently buy packs of ten and 13% of those who buy small packs of RYO, would turn to illicit sources once not able to legally, further exacerbating the problem.