Cheap cigs account for fifth of market

LAMBERT & Butler firm Imperial Tobacco yesterday said budget cigarettes now account for about a fifth of the total UK market as nicotine addicts turn to cheaper smokes.

The global tobacco giant, which holds over 45 per cent of the 44.2 billion cigarettes-a-year UK market, said consumer downtrading "appears to have accelerated" following the increase in VAT in January.

Smokers are also rolling their own cigarettes to save money, with the UK fine-cut tobacco market growing 18 per cent to 4,850 tonnes on an annualised basis, the owner of the JPS Silver and Windsor Blue brands noted.