BANNING smoking in public places would prove more un-popular in Liverpool than in the rest of the country.
A survey in the city found that only 46pc of people wanted a total ban, compared with a national figure of 68pc.
The findings come despite the fact that Liverpool has the highest incidence of lung cancer in England and Wales and one of the highest rates in Europe.
Researchers Nicotinell, who also manufacture products to help people quit smoking, found that a huge number of people were opposed to any type of boycott, which included more lenient measures of small no-smoking areas.
A spokesman for Nicotinell said: "Some 94pc of smokers interviewed around Liverpool city centre were against any type of ban, primarily because they believed they had a right to smoke.
"More surprisingly, a majority of exsmokers, 54pc, and a quarter of nonsmokers were also against the idea."
The main reason that people did not want a ban were fears that it would damage local business.
One of the cafés included in the survey was the Soul Café in Bold Street in the city centre, which agreed that a ban would be detrimental to trade.
Joint manager Stuart Willett said: "I'm not surprised that people want to keep smoking in Liverpool.
"If we banned smoking in our café, we'd lose half our customers straight away, so it's just not feasible.
"But, having said that, even as a smoker myself, I prefer a smoke-free atmosphere when I'm eating."
Chris Owen, head of tobacco control at the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, disputed the fears of lost custom.
She said: "We need to educate people a lot more about the effects of passive smoking.
"There's lots of reports from the tobacco industry about how a smoking ban would damage trade that they make sure we hear about but in reality there's non-smoking venues like the Ring O' Bells in West Kirby in the Wirral who have experienced a massive increase in business as a result of the ban.
"Cinemas have not experienced a drop in business from going nonsmoking and we believe that no-one should have to breathe someone else's smoke when they go to work."
The research follows a call from 13 Royal Colleges of Medicine to introduce a smoking ban in public places.
PROBE INTO CIGARETTE PRICES
THE Office of Fair Trading (OFT) yesterday confirmed it has launched an investigation into possible price-fixing in the cigarette trade.
The watchdog has written to a number of manufacturers and retailers requesting information.
An OFT spokeswoman declined to give any further details.
However, she said it was separate from another probe launched in February this year into the supply of Rizla rolling papers.
"We have launched an investigation into the cigarette trade as we feel there are reasonable grounds to suspect a breach of the Competition Act," said the spokeswoman.
A number of tobacco companies including the Gallaher Group, Rothmans UK and Imperial Tobacco confirmed they had received a request for information about an investigation into agreements between cigarette manufacturers and retailers.