Cigarette sales in England and Wales are experiencing a sharp fall following the ban on smoking in public places.
Lambert & Butler maker Imperial Tobacco said that sales in the UK had fallen by 4% to £47bn in the year to December.
Meanwhile, figures from the Information Centre for Health and Social Care revealed that almost 165,000 smokers kicked the habit between April and September last year. The figures represent a 28% rise in the number of people giving up compared with the same period in 2006.
Alex Andrews, manager of Newport Village Stores in Essex, said he had noticed a significant drop in sales since the ban was introduced in England last July. "We have taken £1,500 less in cigarette sales this January compared with last year," he said.
October's rise in the legal smoking age had also contributed to the fall, he believed. "However, I have noticed that many of the teenagers who used to smoke are buying confectionery instead; chocolate sales have soared," he said.
Tim Lake, of Redlands Stores in Fareham, Hampshire, agreed, but added: "I was expecting the smoking ban to prompt a rise in alcohol sales, but there has been very little noticeable change there."

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