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A tobacconist, also called a tobacco shop or smoke shop, is a retailer of tobacco products in various forms and the related accoutrements, such as pipes, lighters, matches, pipe cleaners, pipe tampers. More specialized retailers may sell ashtrays, humidification devices, hygrometers, humidors, cigar cutters, and more. Books and magazines, especially ones related to tobacco are commonly offered. Items irrelevant to tobacco such as puzzles, games, figurines, hip flasks, canes or other walking sticks, and candy are sometimes sold. In the USA, a tobacconist shop is traditionally represented by a wooden Indian positioned nearby. Most retailers of tobacco sell other types of product; today supermarkets, in many countries with a special counter, are usually the main sellers of the common brands of cigarette. In the United Kingdom, a common combination in small shops has been a newsagent selling newspapers and magazines, as well as confectionery and tobacco. In UK retailing this sector is known as "CONTOB" ("confectionery and tobacco").
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Specialist tobacconists are in theory educated and practiced in all things related to tobacco including its different forms, colors, scents, textures and tastes. They employ this knowledge to provide information regarding customers about the tobacco products. Due to the decline in the tobacco industry in recent decades and widespread use of mass-produced tobacco products, tobacconists have become scarce, though many smokers still prefer to buy their products from a tobacco shop with a tobacconist behind the counter.
Standard tobacco shops in the United States generally specialize in cigarettes, roll-your-own supplies, smokeless tobacco such as dipping tobacco and chewing tobacco, cigars, and pipe tobacco. More recently, these smoke shops may also carry vaping supplies, and some may also double as head shops.
More upscale tobacco shops tend to have a much larger emphasis on cigars and pipe tobacco. Many of these establishments will have a walk-in humidor, as well as a smoking lounge or even a bar. These stores, often categorizing themselves specifically as a cigar store generally have limited amounts of the other commonplace forms of tobacco.
In countries where tobacco control laws are strong, tobacconists may have their trade limited. In the United States, it is common for retail pharmacies to sell cigarettes and similar products on the same premises as over-the-counter drugs and prescription medication. Campaigners in the USA advocate the removal of tobacco from pharmacies due to the health risks associated with smoking and the apparent contradiction of selling cigarettes alongside smoking cessation products and asthma medication. Pharmaceutical retailers counter this argument by reasoning that by selling tobacco, they are more readily able to offer to customers advice and products for quitting smoking.
Uses in art
The Tobacconist, Victorian Walk is a featured exhibit at the Museum of London. It showcases shops in an effort to recreate the late 19th century.
An advertisement for a tobacconist from the almanac of La Chronique de Jersey, 1892
Modern tobacconist in Windsor, UK.