YORK’S last traditional tobacconist - which sold everything from £75 Cuban Havana cigars to pipes and tobacco - has closed its doors for the final time.

John Terry, owner of Choice Select in Coppergate, says customers will now have to travel to places as far away as Harrogate, Leeds and Newcastle to get to a specialist tobacconist.

He said his business had fallen victim to a combination of factors including declining rates of smoking, soaring taxation, rising restrictions and business rates, and poor footfall in Coppergate. He also had to pay a £250 levy to the York BID (Business Improvement District) .

The closure will leave the street with another empty shop. The Press reported recently how businesses felt it was getting very little back from the BID in return for the levy, such as Christmas lights or steps to improve the appearance of empty and boarded up premises.

The BID said it did not have the budget to light up every street in the city but was happy to put wraps on the windows of empty shops to improve their appearance if agents would allow it.

Mr Terry said smoking had been declining for years, especially the use of pipes, but the biggest factor in the sharp fall over the past decade had undoubtedly been the growth in the use of e-cigs.

He said he was the first retailer to sell the new vaping devices in York back in 2008, originally from the Choice Select shop.

Very few were sold initially but then sales soared, ultimately outselling tobacco, and he later decided to open separate premises further along Coppergate to specifically sell them. The shop, called Totally Wicked, was thriving and he would continue to run it.

Mr Terry said he had bought Choice Select 13 years ago from Maurice Hastings, who died last year, but it had been open there for 35 years.

He said the key products which it sold included a large selection of quality hand rolled cigars from Cuba, Guatemala, Dominica and beyond, which needed to be kept at a specific humidity through a special in-store humidifier.

Havana cigars could cost as much as £75 for rare limited editions, he added.

The store also sold pipes, loose tobacco - two different types for roll-up cigarettes and pipes - cigarettes and snuff.

The 61-year-old revealed that he personally would not miss the opportunity to buy tobacco in any form: “I don’t smoke,” he said.