Jan. 31 (UPI) — U.S. federal data released this week show the total number of cigarettes sold in the domestic market is down roughly 70% from peak levels, though companies are spending more on promotion.
The Federal Trade Commission Monday reported tobacco companies sold 190.2 billion cigarettes to wholesalers and retailers in 2021, the last full year for which data are published. Total volume was around 203.7 billion the prior year.
While volumes are lower, more smokers seem to be turning to flavored products. The FTC reported that menthol-flavored cigarettes made up about 37% of the market share in 2021, compared with 16% during the early 1960s.
Companies also are spending more, with advertising and promotion increasing from $7.84 billion in 2020 to $8.06 billion in 2021, data published Monday show.
On Tuesday, Mathew L. Meyers, president for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said much of the data are encouraging. Data from 2021 marks the first time that sales have dropped below 200 billion and the level marks a 70% decline from peak levels of 636.5 billion in 1981.
“These declines also underscore the proven effectiveness of strategies that have been implemented to reduce tobacco use, including increased tobacco taxes and prices, comprehensive smoke-free laws, well-funded prevention and cessation programs, hard-hitting mass media campaigns, and, more recently, state and local laws ending the sale of flavored tobacco products,” he said.
The largest decline in sales, however, came in 1999 after retail prices soared in response to state-level settlements with big tobacco companies and in 2009, when federal and state taxes on the products increased.
There was, meanwhile, an increase in the use of tobacco products during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Smoking also remains a concern as usage among teens is on the rise. The American Lung Association said in its latest State of Tobacco Control report that 16.5% of high school students and 4.5% of middle school students used tobacco products in 2022, an increase of about 3% for high schoolers and 0.5% for middle schoolers over 2021.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids added that tobacco use results in $241 billion in health care spending and more than 480,000 deaths each year.