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They Don't Sell Cigarettes Like They Used To

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The free-smoking days of "Mad Men" are long gone.

Over four decades of aggressive advertisingdraconian restrictions and escalating taxes, tobacco consumption took a nosedive in the U.S., and American stores have felt the decline.

A GIF posted to Reddit Sunday by user metricmapsore shows information pulled from "The Tax Burden on Tobacco Vol. 47," offering a stark look at the decline in cigarette sales nationwide since 1970.

GIF via imgur

In 1970, the map shows, most states sold well over 100 packs of cigarettes per person each year.

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But by 1990, the picture had started to fundamentally change...

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... and by 2012, a few holdouts including Kentucky and West Virginia were the only states that saw per-capita cigarette sales anywhere close to 1970-levels, the map shows.

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Besides widespread awareness of tobacco's health impacts, another factor likely contributed to the sales drop: taxes.

GIF via imgur

In the above GIF, metricmapsore shows an astronomical rise in state-by-state cigarette sales taxes over five decades.

CVS earned praise from health experts last week when the pharmacy chain stopped carrying tobacco products weeks ahead of schedule, but as these maps indicate, the nationwide slump in cigarette sales has been a steady, inexorable force — meaning CVS might stand to gain more from its new healthier branding than it stands to lose by not selling cigarettes.

While the company is giving up an estimated $2 billion annually with the switch, it seems clear that selling cigarettes today is a far cry from the business it used to be.

Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

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