Britain's ban on tobacco advertising, in force since February 14, will “not make any difference to consumption”, according to Nigel Northridge, chief executive of the nation’s second largest tobacco manufacturer Gallaher.
His remark accompanied the group’s full year results for 2002, which reflected weaker margins because of a media spending free-for-all to maximise market share in the run-up to the ban.
Volumes increase by 42.2% after recent acquisitions, while sales were up 47.3% at £8.42 billion ($13.50bn; €12.34bn), including income from joint ventures. Profit before tax rose year-on-year from £329m to £378m.
Northridge did not explain the reasons underlying his optimism that UK sales volume would hold up in the face of an advertising ban.
However, this is almost certainly based on the eastern European paradox during the sixties and seventies when several countries, including the [then] Czechoslovakia, found that an ad ban actually resulted in sales increases.
Gallaher, whose brands include Benson & Hedges cigarettes and Hamlet cigars, is continuing to sponsor Formula One motor racing which will not subject to the Europe-wide ban on tobacco sponsorship until July 2005.
Data sourced from: Telegraph.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff