The recent surge in new tobacco product launches is expected to continue with packs including 14s, 15s and even 23s and 24s expected to hit gantries soon.

There have been eight launches from the UK’s major players since June - all in lower-priced small pack sizes such as 10s and 18s - as manufacturers scramble to offer adult smokers value for money before production of cigarettes in packs of less than 20 is banned by new European Tobacco Product Directive (EUTPD) rules in May 2016. (Retailers are expected to have a further 12 months to sell through old stock).

A further deluge of NPD is expected to hit before the end of the year - including cigarettes in packs of 14 and 15 - to act as staging posts and help adult smokers who currently purchase 10s adjust to larger pack sizes and prices.

Euromonitor International tobacco analyst Shane MacGuill said: “It would make sense for manufacturers to begin the process of migrating consumers to larger pack sizes in anticipation of the implementation of the directive.”

Hugh Walker, head of new business at automated gantry supplier Navarra Retail Systems, also said he expected the tobacco manufacturers to start launching larger pack sizes such as 22s, 23s and 24s.

Larger pack sizes would help brands differentiate themselves and ensure gantries remained full once retailers had sold through old stock, he said.

Bipin Haria of Seaford News in East Sussex welcomed the NPD. “We are given incentives to promote new products so it can be advantageous, and I expect to see more launches, including larger pack sizes, as manufacturers look for ways to differentiate themselves. I already sell Royals in packs of 23, which are popular with older smokers. At £8.58 they are more expensive than the 19-pack format, but work out cheaper per stick.”

However, independent Nigel Dowdney, who owns two stores in Norwich, disagreed. “There are now so many different variants and pack sizes that the market is becoming incredibly confusing for retailers and the staff in charge of ordering new stock,” he said.