US cigarette sales rise during pandemic for first time in 20 years

Number sold by major manufacturers rose by 800 million units, Federal Trade Commission says

Ovunc Kutlu   | 27.10.2021
US cigarette sales rise during pandemic for first time in 20 years


US cigarette sales increased for the first time in 20 years during the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Trade Commission said in an annual Cigarette Report on Thursday.

The number of cigarettes sold by major manufacturers in the US increased to 203.7 billion units in 2020, a rise of 800 million units, or 0.4%, from the previous year, it said.

"Advertising and promotional expenditures also increased during that same period, from $7.624 billion to $7.84 billion," it said. "The largest single category of these expenditures in 2020 was price discounts paid to cigarette retailers in order to reduce the price of cigarettes to consumers, which accounted for $6.065 billion, 77.4% of total advertising and promotional expenditures," it added.

The agency did not indicate whether pandemic lockdowns were a cause for the increase in sales.

The North American Quitline Consortium (NAQC) said in March that sales have been affected by the pandemic.

"Stress and anxiety resulting from the pandemic may be factors in the increased use of tobacco, alcohol and other substances," said the Phoenix-based non-profit organization that promotes quitting services.

"Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the US, accounting for an estimated 480,000 deaths annually," according to the Report on the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Smoking Cessation.

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