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Price hike sparks higher cigarette sales

Although smoking appears to be losing popularity in Switzerland, the Federal Customs Office on Monday said 17 million more packs were sold last year than in 2007.

Vendors sold around 637 million packs of cigarettes in 2008. While that is up from 2007, it is considerably less than a decade ago when consumers burned through 772 million packs.

Stefan Schmidt of the Customs Office said the slight increase in sales – 2.7 per cent – probably did not signal an increase in smoking. It likely has more to do with consumer behaviour, he said.

The federal government announced in November 2008 that it would increase taxes on cigarettes by 30 centimes, bringing the retail price up to around SFr6.90 ($5.95) a pack.

Schmidt said officials had noticed that people tend to buy more cigarettes if they know the price is about to jump.

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