The festive season can be a stressful time for some people and those who smoke might be able to relieve just a tiny bit of that pressure by stepping outside and lighting up a cigarette. While it's not a long-term solution, many people reckon a ciggie can calm them down.
However, some might have to go cold turkey this Christmas after one of the UK's biggest tobacco distributors went into administration. Palmer and Harvey has sparked fears that tens of thousands of shops across Britain will run out of cigarettes by the time Christmas rolls round after calling in administrators
Joint administrator and PwC partner Matthew Callaghan told the BBC: "The company has insufficient cash resources to continue to trade beyond the short term and the directors have concluded that there is no longer any reasonable prospect of a sale.
"Therefore, the directors have had no choice but appoint administrators.
"The administrators are working closely with employees affected by the closure of the business to ensure they receive the support they need during this difficult time to assist with their claims for redundancy and other compensatory payments.
"This is a devastating blow for everyone who has been involved in the business."
While some tobacco lovers will be annoyed, dismayed and frustrated at the announcement, spare a thought for the 2,500 people who have lost their jobs, effective immediately, just before Christmas.
According to a statement, the remaining few hundred staff will be kept on to 'assist the joint administrators in managing the activities of the business to an orderly closure'.
One bloke who had worked with the company for 13 years says he found out he was being fired in the most brutal way. Daniel Wright has told the Portsmouth News: "From the people I've spoken to everyone is still in shock.
"I found out when I was watching the news. I was completely lost for words.
"People were turning up in lorries on Wednesday morning and being told to go back to the depot."
Tesco and Sainsbury's have released statements reassuring the public that they will do everything in their power to ensure that supplies don't run out. A spokesperson for Tesco said: "We will now work to ensure that we can continue to meet our customers' shopping needs."
A representative for Sainsbury's added that 'strong contingency' plans have been set up to prevent smokers around the UK from going into withdrawals.
Tobacco firm Imperial Brands had given financial support to Palmer and Harvey in the months before this collapse. The company estimates that its own operating profits will take a £160 million hit, which is mainly from unrecoverable excise duty.
Featured Image Credit: PA