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Independents are at risk of having more than £370m wiped from their annual takings if “highly damaging” EU plans to ban sales of menthol cigarettes are passed.

Figures supplied to RN by data company EDFM estimate retailers stand to lose around 8% of their total cigarette sales if the government chooses to adopt proposals from Brussels to outlaw flavoured tobacco.

The research, taken from EPoS data from more than 1,000 UK convenience stores and newsagents, also highlighted significant growth in year-on-year menthol sales through local businesses in 2012, up 9.9% in 2012 to £376m.

RN’s investigation was sparked by draft legislation drawn up by the European commission last month for a new Tobacco Products Directive, which includes proposals to introduce more graphic tobacco warnings, scrapping 10s packs, and banning cigarettes with a “characterising flavour”