Sales of cigarettes in Italy have plunged 23 percent since the introduction on Jan. 10 of a law banning smoking in bars and other public places, the tobacco vendors trade association Assotabaccai said today.
If the preliminary data is confirmed in a final report at the end of the month, the government may face protest from retailers over the measure, the association said in an e-mailed statement.
“Such a big drop arouses great concerns among us,” said Maurizio Bruni, the president of the association in an interview. “The economic impact of the decline in sales will be felt not only by vendors but also by the state through lower tax revenue.”
The law has spurred protests from smokers, who said it infringes on civil liberties, and from the staff of restaurants and other businesses who have to enforce the ban. Those who fail to do so are subject to fines of as much as 2,200 euros ($2,849).
About 24 percent of Italians above the age of 14 are smokers, the Health Ministry’s Web site said, citing figures from the national statistics office from 2003.
A tax increase of 20 euro cents on each pack of cigarettes took effect in December, boosting the country’s inflation rate to 2 percent from a five-year low of 1.9 percent the previous month.
Ban Damage: Italy Sales Down 23%
Originally written By: Chiara Remondini