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Cigarette sales increased in 2020 for first time in two decades

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported Tuesday that cigarette sales increased in 2020 for the first time in 20 years. 

The FTC, which issued its 2020 Cigarette Report, stated that 203.7 billion cigarettes were sold by major manufacturers in the U.S. in 2020 compared to 202.9 billion the year prior, noting it represented a 0.4 percent increase between the years. Still, those numbers are a far cry from the FTC’s record of the most cigarettes sold by major manufacturers — a whopping 636.5 billion in 1981.

The FTC also noted that advertising and “promotional expenditures” for cigarettes between 2019 and 2020 increased. Last year, $7.84 billion was spent on advertising and promotional expenses compared to $7.62 billion in 2019. 

The report said that the majority of this money was spent giving cigarette dealers price discounts to make cigarettes less expensive. The FTC said that roughly 77 percent of advertising and promotional expenses were geared toward the price discounts, or $6.07 billion.

The parent companies of cigarette manufacturers including Altria Group Inc., ITG Holdings USA Inc., Reynolds American Inc. and Vector Group Ltd. all reported their company information to the FTC. 

The agency said it did not report on data related to heated, non-combusted cigarettes — which are different from e-cigarettes — “because only one company sold such products in 2019 and 2020 and when only one company reports in a category, the Commission does not report such information in order to avoid potential disclosure” of company information.

Meanwhile, the FTC noted in its Smokeless Tobacco report that the number of pounds of smokeless tobacco had increased between 2019 and 2020. In 2019, close to 126 million pounds of tobacco had been sold compared to 126.8 million pounds sold in 2020.

Sales in 2019 were at around $4.5 billion compared to $4.8 billion the following year.

Tags Cigarettes Smokeless tobacco
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