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Increase of Cigarette Sales Over the Last Year

During the COVID-19 pandemic there has been an increase in cigarette sales for the first time in two decades. According to The Federal Trade Commission’s annual cigarette report manufacturers sold 203.7 billion cigarettes last year. In comparison with 2019’s report, 202.9 billion cigarettes were sold, that is an increase of 0.4%.

The report was compiled with data gathered from data submitted by four major tobacco companies — Altria Group, the maker of Marlboros; ITG Holdings USA, makers of Winston and Kools; Reynolds American, with brands like Camels and Pall Malls; and Vector Group Ltd., maker of Pyramid brand cigarettes.

Based on the report, companies increased their advertisement and promotion to $7.84 billion last year. Majority of the company’s spending was dedicated to “price discounts paid to cigarette retailers in order to reduce the price of cigarettes to customers,” the FTC said.

Though the report did not imply that sales went up due to the coronavirus pandemic, our source Bloomberg states that sales had jumped due to people bulking up on their cigarette purchases in fear of there being shortages. 

Altria Group CEO Billy Gifford told investors “During the pandemic, we saw consumers add nicotine occasions to their day, which we believe was stay-at-home practices.” The increase in sales can also be attributed to coping mechanisms individuals used to deal with the stress and anxiety that came with the pandemic.

Don Burke, senior vice president at Management Science Associates in Pittsburgh believes that the jumps in sales were clearly connected to the pandemic. 

The pattern does not seem to be going on for very long though. Nielsen’s convenience-store report, which documents data over the course of four weeks, shows that this year the overall sales of traditional cigarettes were down by 4.9%, reported by the The Winston-Salem Journal.

The Nielsen report also shows that the sales of electronic cigarettes were down though they had risen 7.5% year after year before. 

Traditional cigarette sales have been in decline in recent years with minors being the main consumers of electronic cigarette sales.

According to news outlet Fortune, CVS pharmacy stopped carrying the products, as did Costco Wholesale, Walmart and most of Sam’s Club stores later on in 2014. Now, more big companies that contain drugstores such as, Walgreens have hinted on stopping sales for tobacco products and getting rid of it in their stores which there are about 100,00 located in the U.S. 

The federal government publicly announced its plans to ban all menthol cigarettes and flavored cigar products, but would take years to set that ban in place. The threat of enacting the ban is very real to the big tobacco industry. The FTC gathered data from sales indicating that menthol flavored smokeless tobacco products took up more than half of all sales revenues, 54.5%, while regular tobacco flavored products made up 43.4%.

On NPR’s website there is a report done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed last year one in five high school students and more than 6% of U.S. adults say they vape.

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