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Sales at convenience stores in Japan dropped 1 percent on a same-store basis in November from a year earlier to 534.7 billion yen ($5.4 billion U.S.) for the fourth consecutive monthly fall, according to the Japan Franchise Association.

The number of customers visiting convenience stores rose 0.9 percent to some 900 million for the first increase in three months but they spent an average of 576 yen ($5.54 U.S.) per customer, down 1.4 percent, as sales of seasonal products were sluggish due to the unusually warm weather, the association said.

In other news, new controls on tobacco advertising have come into effect in Britain, the latest step in a government campaign against smoking.

The size of cigarette and tobacco advertising in stores, bars and clubs will now be limited to the size of a paperback book. Health warnings must also be displayed, occupying about a third of the space.

"These new regulations will mean that people will no longer be bombarded by the large, colorful tobacco advertising at their local supermarket or corner shop," said Health Secretary John Reid. "This is one element of our plans to help people stop smoking and reduce the numbers of people who take up the habit."

The new restrictions will be enforced by Trading Standards officials, who can levy fines of up to 5,000 pounds ($9,588 U.S.). Offenders can also be jailed for up to five months.

In November, the government proposed a smoking ban for all workplaces, public buildings, restaurants and all pubs in which food is served.
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