RESEARCH released today (Tuesday, October 18) has revealed that cigarette sales are not vital to securing profits for North-East shopkeepers.

Figures from an Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) study have shown that corner shops make an average of a £242 profit on tobacco per week – compared to £2,611 profit from all other sales.

The survey also found that tobacco companies employ representatives to encourage small retailers to stock their brands and promote them with 45 per cent of retailers reporting being visited once a month.

A move to shielding cigarettes behind doors and using plainer packaging has been attributed to the dip, which matches regional figures recorded fewer people smoking than ever before.

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: "Here in the North-East we have a third fewer smokers since 2005, more smokers are cutting down and fewer children are starting in the first place.

"At the end of the day this means less people getting diseases, and fewer people dying in their 40s, 50s and 60s.”

The report is being launched in today’s Annual General Meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health at the Houses of Parliament.