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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 September 2005, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Gauloises and Gitanes exit France
French actor and singer Charles Aznavour
Smoking dark cigarettes adds a certain 'je ne sais quoi'
Gauloises and Gitanes, the French cigarettes that wreathed movie stars in smoke and made many a teenager gasp for air, will no longer be made in France.

The last cigarette is due to be made on Thursday as production is moved from Lille, France to Alicante, Spain.

Smokers have turned away from the filterless and pungent cigarettes loved by artists and philosophers such as Albert Camus and Serge Gainsbourg.

The move is part of cost-cutting measures by owner Altadis.

Sales drag

It seems as if the days of the full-strength cigarettes are numbered.

During the 1980s, US brands lured European smokers with their bright packs and funkier image, while today's more health conscious smokers prefer to spark up lighter brands with a lower tar content.

Demand also is falling foul of a European Union drive to cut down on smoking, and duties on a packet of cigarettes have increased in France.

Brand-owner Altadis said on Wednesday that sales of dark cigarettes in the first half of 2005 were down 11% in France and 13% in Spain compared with the same period a year ago.

'Brunes' cigarettes now account for less than 20% of the global market, down from more than 80% in 1978.

Sales of lighter 'blondes' cigarettes are steady, Altadis said, adding that it is moving production to Spain to be closer to the consumer.

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