Cigarette sales increased in 2020 for the first time in decades, says FTC report



Top line

Cigarette sales increased last year for the first time in two decades, providing more evidence that more Americans have started smoking amid the stress of pandemic lockdowns, and spending on cigarette advertising and promotion has increased 2.9% to $ 7.84 billion, according to annual reports from the federal government. Tobacco Industry Trade Commission released Tuesday.


The FTC reports that 203.7 billion cigarettes were sold by major tobacco companies to retailers in the United States in 2020, a slight increase from the 202.9 billion reported in 2019.

We are far from the peak of 636.5 billion cigarettes sold in 1981.

Sales of smokeless tobacco increased 0.9% to 126.9 million pounds.

There is reason to believe that the increase in sales was only a one-year blow: the volume of cigarette sales fell 9.4% in the four-week period ending October 9 compared to the same period last year, according to Nielsen data.

Large number

$ 6.07 billion. This is the amount tobacco companies spent on price discounts paid to cigarette retailers in 2020, accounting for more than three-quarters of all advertising and promotion spending.


Electronic cigarettes have become increasingly popular among young Americans. A September study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that 11.3% of high school students and 2.8% of middle school students are active e-cigarette users. A JAMA Pediatrics study released Tuesday found that the lifetime prevalence of cannabis vaping among U.S. and Canadian teens fell from 6.1% to 13.6% from 2013 to 2020.

Further reading

How the pandemic made people smoke again (Vox)

The use of electronic cigarettes by young people remains a serious public health problem amid the COVID-19 pandemic (US Food and Drug Administration)



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