Smoking ban dents German cigarette sales
Tobacco companies are seeing sales in Germany drop after a ban on smoking in public offices, bars and restaurants, according to media reports on Friday.
Taxed sales of cigarettes dropped 8.7 percent in the first three months of this year, regional newspapers Stuttgarter Nachrichten and Kölnische Rundschau reported, citing data from the German Statistical Office. Sales of cigars and cigarillos dropped an even more precipitous 36 percent.
"We expect our sales to drop 3 percent to 5 percent because of the smoking ban," a spokesman for the tobacco company Reemtsma, makers of West cigarettes, told the two newspapers.
The spokesman said the drop would be visible in Reemtsma's financial figures to be issued on Tuesday.
But the tobacco market in Europe in general is becoming weaker, said Marianne Tritz, secretary of DZV, a German cigarette industry association. Tritz said a general market decline could also be a contributing factor in the first quarter's weak numbers.
"It is still difficult to say how much of the losses are due to the smoking ban," Tritz said.
Small pubs and dance clubs in Germany have complained of massive losses due to the smoking bans phased in across the country in the past year.
The German constitutional court in Karlsruhe will decide on June 11 whether the smoking ban is an invasion of property rights and the right to practice a trade.