The recent fall in the number of people buying their cigarettes from pub vending machines levelled out last year, according to new tobacco industry figures.
The latest edition of the UK Tobacco Category Report, compiled by Imperial Tobacco, shows that while the value of on-trade cigarette sales fell from £95m two years ago to just over £87m last year, sales through vending machines fell by just one per cent. This is a marked improvement on the 15 per cent fall in sales seen two years ago.
The report concluded a slight drop in overall cigarette sales, as well as a shift by some pub smokers to miniature cigars, which saw on-trade sales increase by just over £1m last year, was responsible for the overall fall in on-trade sales.
But the value of sales of large cigars in the on-trade increased, from £21.8m two years ago to £22.4m in 2001.
The number of people buying their cigarettes over the bar in pubs remained more or less stable last year, according to the report's analysis of sales patterns.
The on-trade accounted for 0.8 per cent of total UK cigarette sales in 2001, the same percentage as in 2000.
And in what may be evidence of the continued targeting of pubs by tobacco smugglers as outlets for contraband, the value of sales of rolling tobacco in the on-trade fell by £1m last year.