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Cigarette sales are plunging faster than any time before as smokers turn to alternatives like vaping - with 410 million fewer smokes sold annually than just two years ago.

Dr Murray Laugesen, a trustee of the End Smoking NZ charity, analysed tobacco company returns that are published by the Ministry of Health and found a remarkable drop in sales.

About 2132 million cigarettes were sold last year - 193 million fewer than 2018, and following a 217 million drop the previous year.