Rise in cigarette sales linked to cheaper gas prices

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RICHMOND, VA - Do you remember those good 'ol days when people didn't care about cancer, respiratory disease or even pollution?   Everything was so much easier for the tobacco industry and the Marlboro man.  But after years of decline, it looks like cigarette sales are on the rise again.

Philip Morris and other companies report an increase of 1.5% in sales within the U.S.  Surprising, if we consider that sales used to go down three to four percent each year.  So, what's going on here?

Analysts with American Public Media's Marketplace say low gas prices are the main reason behind this trend.  Since 70% of cigarettes are bought at convenience stores where people are usually filling up at the pump, customers are more inclined to smoke the extra cash they save.

"I feel like gas prices being low helps everybody," said gas station owner Rick White.  "Everybody needs to have a little extra money in their pocket, and yes, we've seen people coming and they buy groceries and cigarettes and beer."

In conclusion: cheap gas prices will help you go the distance.  But smoking… that may send you somewhere you don't wanna go.