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Monday, 21 April 2014

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Loose tobacco sales rise as Cumbrian smokers fight back against Budget

Smokers are fighting back against the latest duty increase in cigarettes – by rolling their own.

Cigarettes photo
Chris Thomson, from Brucciani, Carlisle, with a roll-up

Chancellor George Osborne added 37p to the price of a packet of 20 fags in his Budget last month, taking the retail price of even the cheapest brands close to £7.

But hand-rolled cigarettes work out much cheaper.

Andrew Corrieri, a director of the specialist tobacconist Brucciani in Scotch Street, Carlisle, has seen sales of loose tobacco rocket.

He said: “It’s been going up steadily. Turnover has doubled in the last five years and it’s all down to cost.

“We’ve also seen changes in the sales of cigarettes. Smokers are trading down from premium to sub-premium and budget brands, and from budget brands to hand rolling.”

The traditional way to make roll-ups is to buy tobacco, cigarette papers and filter tips for self assembly.

The cost for 20 cigarettes works out at between £2.38 and £3.32, compared with £6.95 for a packet of Lambert & Butler, the cheapest brand at Brucciani.

The shop also sells a machine for £3.99 that fills hollow tubes that look exactly like conventional cigarettes. The tubes cost a penny each. Mr Corrieri said: “A lot of females like these because they are self-conscious about smoking roll-ups.”

There is no evidence that hand-rolled cigarettes are less bad for your health.

But Mr Corrieri said: “People say they cut down probably because, if you want a cigarette, you have to make it first. It’s a disincentive.”

He also detects an increase in sales of flavoured tobacco for roll-ups.

Options include cherry, vanilla, chocolate, coconut, peach and menthol.

Converts include Kevin Griffiths, 18, of Harrington Road, Workington.

He said: “When I started I smoked normal cigarettes but I changed to roll-ups because they’re cheaper.

“I’m not a heavy smoker but I reckon I’m saving at least £10 a week.”

Mattie Habberjam, 62, of Nenthead near Alston, has been smoking roll-ups for 48 years.

He said: “If I don’t have any roll-ups I will buy a packet but roll-ups are so much cheaper, less than half the price. Even women are rolling their own now.”

Not everyone is convinced. Stuart Causey, of Kirkstead Road, Belle Vue, has been smoking for 50 years and spends £40 a week on the habit.

He said: “I drive a lot and you can’t roll cigarettes while driving, so I won’t swap.”

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