US cigarette sales increased for the first time in 20 years between 2019-2020, report shows

The Federal Trade Commission reported this week that cigarette sales went up between 2019 and 2020, which hasn’t happened for 20 years. The report, entitled “Cigarette Report” has been released annually since 1967.

Smokeless tobacco sales also increased between 2019 and 2020, which was reported in the “Smokeless Tobacco Report”- a report that has been published each year since 1987.

In 2019, 202.9 billion cigarettes were sold to wholesalers and retailers by the largest U.S. cigarette companies. The number increased to 203.7 billion in 2020. For smokeless tobacco products, 2019’s 126 million pounds, totalling $4.53 billion in sales, grew to 126.9 million pounds and $4.82 billion in sales in 2020.

One reason the FTC cited for the increase in sales was a larger marketing and promotion budget within the entire industry. In 2019, manufacturers spent 7.62 billion, which increased to 7.84 billion in 2020. However, 88.5% of the industry’s spending came from discounts to wholesalers and retailers, paying them $876 million and $6.07 billion, respectively. 

This was also the first year that the FTC reported sales of nicotine lozenges or nicotine pouches that didn’t contain tobacco. 140.7 million units of these products, equalling $420.5 million, were sold in the U.S. in 2020. The Commission voted 5-0 to release the report.




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