Welsh retailers hope smoke ban will lead to rise in sales

Smokers expected to snub the pub in favour of at-home drinking

Welsh drinks shops are gearing up for a ban on smoking in public places, which comes into force on April 2.

Figures released by market research company Retail Audits show tobacco sales in the Republic of Ireland took a dip following the introduction of a ban in 2004, but have gradually recovered.

Off-licences increased tobacco sales by 16 per cent during the six months to September 2006, while convenience shops saw a boost of 20 per cent. On-trade tobacco sales dropped 39 per cent.

Welsh retailers are hoping the ban there will lead to long-term gains for shops.

Dafydd Morris, manager of Cheers Off-licence, Swansea, said he expected cigarette sales to take a dip initially. "I think a lot of people will try to give up - it's as good a reason as any. I think we'll see a little drop in sales, but then there could be a few more people smoking at home. It's difficult to say."

Yasir Ali, of St Woolos Wine Lodge in Newport, said he was hoping for a boost in tobacco sales. "Smokers will probably rather stay at home," he said. An order form for signage can be found at www.smokingbanwales.co.uk.

Shops will have to display no-smoking sign s and make sure no one smokes on the premises once the ban starts.

Northern Ireland's smoking ban comes into force on April 30, and England's follows on July 1. Last May, after the ban started in Scotland, off-licence worker Andrew Cairns, of Bottle's Off-sales in Paisley, was fined £150 by a council official for lighting a customer's cigarette.