Working from home may have prompted a rise in smoking at home, the owner of Davidoff and Winston cigarettes said yesterday.
Imperial Brands, the Bristol-based tobacco company, said that it had experienced “certain Covid-related changes in consumer behaviour” with “increased overall demand against our expectations”.
A spokesman for Imperial said: “Where people are working from home there tend to be greater opportunities to light up.”
The company said that the tobacco business “continued to perform well despite an uncertain and disrupted trading environment”. Consumers appear to have “allocated more of their spend to tobacco”, Imperial said in a full-year trading update.
Imperial is one of the world’s biggest tobacco manufacturers and dates back to Henry Overton Wills opening a shop in Bristol in 1786. It employs about 30,000 people and sells tobacco brands in about 160 markets.
Public health bodies and campaigners are seeking to encourage people to quit smoking this month as part of a 28-day “Stoptober” challenge.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said this year that “it is abundantly clear from the research into previous coronaviruses that smoking makes the impact of a coronavirus worse”. Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, has said: “If you are going to give up smoking, this is a very good moment to do it.”
The increase in tobacco sales at Imperial, driven by improved volumes in several key European markets and the US, helped to offset weaker markets for duty-free and in some traditional summer tourist destinations because reduced travel had affected demand.