The survey, commissioned by the pro-UK Better Together coalition, run by Alistair Darling, the former Labour chancellor, found that 56% of voters believed it was better for Scotland to use the pound while remaining within the UK.
The poll, by YouGov, also found that keeping sterling was unpopular with supporters of Salmond's own SNP party. Among those who would vote SNP in a Holyrood election, it was supported by 36%, while 26% favoured a new currency and 21% would rather stay in the UK.
The poll, which found anxiety about the economic risks of independence, was released as the SNP met for its spring conference, this weekend and two days after Salmond announced that the referendum on independence would be held on Thursday, 18 September 2014.
The SNP responded with its own poll, which found that just over half of all Scots believed the Scottish government should control all taxation, spending, welfare and pensions policy, compared with about 35% who preferred the UK government.
John Swinney, Scottish finance secretary, said these "hugely encouraging results" showed "there is a clear majority support for the key decisions about Scotland to be taken right here in Scotland."
As he prepared to rally his activists for 18 months of campaigning, Salmond sought to boost morale by disclosing that SNP membership had now reached 25,000 – almost twice the figure of five years ago – while other parties' membership figures were in long-term decline.
Conscious that support for independence remains at about 32%, Salmond said the party had to convert the popularity of his devolved government at Holyrood into support for independence.
"In six years, we have taken trust in the Scottish government to a high of 71% – four times more than trust in Westminster. [With] the full measure of independence we get by voting 'yes', we will be able to achieve much more for Scotland," he said.
Darling said Salmond's strategy of keeping sterling and the Bank of England in London as the central bank fatally undermined the case for independence.
"A currency union means that the two countries involved, Scotland and the rest of the UK, would have to agree everything. They would have to agree on their tax, on their spending, on their borrowing. In other words, Scotland's budget would have to be agreed by another country – that's not independence," he said.
Salmond and Swinney insist even that level of influence would give Scotland far greater freedom to decide its own economic policy than it currently has, while protecting its close trading and business links to the rest of the UK.
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