The ban on smoking in public places imposed last month throughout Scotland has had no discernible effect on cigarette sales, claims Imperial Tobacco Company ceo Gareth Davis.
Imperial, Britain's largest manufacturer of cigarettes and rolling tobacco, said anecdotal reports from the hospitality trade presented a "confused picture", but "so far we have not seen any effect on our business".
Davis clearly hopes the trend in Scotland will emulate that of Ireland, where an identical ban was introduced in March 2004.
According to ITC data, Irish tobacco consumption rebounded strongly following an initial dip of around 5% in the weeks following imposition of the ban. However, interim results from Imperial posted yesterday showed they had recovered by 4% in the six months to March 31.
But Imperial, whose tobacco business extends worldwide, reports that UK sales overall (48.4 billion cigarettes) fell 4.3% compared with the same period a year ago.
However, strong gains in eastern Europe, Russia and Asia helped drive up group sales by 9% to the equivalent of 86.3bn cigarettes. Underlying pre-tax profit rose 5% to £618 million ($1.11bn; €887.38m).
Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff