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The Western European tobacco market experienced sales of 537 billion units in 2011, making it the third largest market for cigarettes. However, year-on-year sales fell by over 4%, the biggest percentage fall of any region (except the much smaller market of Australasia) and the biggest actual volume fall. This falling trend means that the region could shrink to fourth place, as sales in the Middle East and Africa continue to rise.
Western Europe declined in volume terms more than any other major region in 2011, facing pressures from weak economic conditions, rising prices and continuing health awareness campaigns.
In an environment of high taxes and harsh anti-smoking measures, Western Europe has seen some of the world's biggest falls in cigarette volumes with attendant rises in RYO and cigarillos as consumers seek a cheaper smoke.
Volume falls will continue as smoking prevalence declines, along with a reduction in consumption by remaining smokers, though multinational activity in new sub-brands to prop up share and drive value in a shrinking market will keep value sales afloat.
While smoking prevalence varies widely within the region, the overall trend is downwards. The pace of decline in smoking numbers is slowing, but the smokers that remain are also smoking fewer cigarettes on average.
Sales in Western Europe represented just over 9% of the global total in 2011, down from 11% in 2006. The pace of decline has quickened in recent years, with the decline over 2006-11 averaging 3% annually. There are pockets of growth in the region, but for the main part the impact of EU legislation is being felt.
For more information on the Western European tobacco market, see the latest research: Western European Tobacco Market
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