Cigarette sales increased last year for the first time in 20 years: Coronavirus Updates: NPR

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Manufacturers sold 203.7 billion cigarettes in 2020, up 0.4% from the previous year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Esther Moreno Martinez / EyeEm / Getty Images / EyeEm


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Manufacturers sold 203.7 billion cigarettes in 2020, up 0.4% from the previous year, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Esther Moreno Martinez / EyeEm / Getty Images / EyeEm

For the first time in two decades, cigarette sales increased last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, as tobacco companies also increased their spending to promote their products.

The Federal Trade Commission, in its annual report Cigarette Report, said manufacturers sold 203.7 billion cigarettes in 2020, up from 202.9 billion in 2019, an increase of 0.4%.

The FTC compiled the report from data submitted by four major tobacco companies – Altria Group, the maker of Marlboros; ITG Holdings USA, which manufactures Winston and Kools; Reynolds American, with brands such as Camels and Pall Malls; and Vector Group Ltd., maker of Pyramid brand cigarettes.

Businesses, according to the report, increased advertising and promotion to $ 7.84 billion in 2020, from $ 7.624 billion the year before, concentrating most of their spending on “price discounts paid to retailers. of cigarettes in order to reduce the price of cigarettes to customers, ”the FTC says.

The report did not say whether the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns that followed last year had anything to do with increased sales, but Bloomberg reported in April 2020 that Altria’s first-quarter sales had jumped in part due to “bulk buying – what the company calls” pantry loading “,” suggesting smokers stocked up on cigarettes fearing shortages.

“In 2020, total nicotine consumption in the United States increased by 3.4%,” said Don Burke, senior vice president of Management Science Associates in Pittsburgh. CSP. a newspaper specializing in convenience stores, in August. “So it’s clear that the pandemic has had an impact on the overall category of total nicotine delivery. “

But the increase in sales last year seems unlikely to represent a long-term trend. Nielsen’s convenience store report for a four-week period ending March 27 of this year showed overall sales of traditional cigarettes were down 4.9%, as reported The Winston-Salem newspaper.

Meanwhile, in the same Nielsen report, e-cigarette sales declined slightly, although they were up 7.5% year-over-year.

In recent years, sales of traditional cigarettes have steadily declined, while electronic cigarettes have seen an increase, especially among minors.

A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year reported that one in five high school students and more than 6% of American adults now report vaping.


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