Recent Study – US Cigarette Sales Dramatically Dropping

Recent Study – US Cigarette Sales Dramatically Dropping

In 1945, almost 60 percent of Americans were smoking cigarettes, either causally or on a consistent basis. Recent statistics show that the number had decreased by two-thirds to approximately 21 percent.

Have you smoked any cigarettes in the past week?

Impact on The Tobacco Industry

The impact of this statistical change has had a negative impact on the tobacco industry as a whole. At its peak around 1975, approximately 150 packs of cigarettes per year were being sold and consumed per capita throughout the country. In 2012 that number had dropped to 46 packs. The only way tobacco companies have managed to remain profitable throughout the past 55-60 years is by continually raising cigarette prices. In the last decade, this has become a double-edged sword for the industry as rising prices are quickly becoming one of the most important reason’s why smokers are choosing to quit.

U.S. Total per capita Cigarette Consumption


Why are Cigarettes Sales Declining?

There are three primary reasons why cigarettes have continued to fall since its peak in the mid 1970s.

1. Health Concerns – It’s no coincidence that cigarette sales began its descent when the Surgeon General issued a directive in 1965 that tobacco products were required to include warning labels about the relationship between tobacco and cancer. Prior to that, there were no conclusive opinions or evidence related to the issue. Americans took heed of the warnings and started cutting back or quitting all together.

2. Rising Prices – As mentioned above, tobacco companies used increased prices to offset the decreasing demand for its product. Additionally, taxing jurisdictions (federal and state) began levying stiff tobacco taxes on consumers as a method of raising revenues. The combination of those two economic factors has caused average consumers to reconsider their consumption of tobacco products due to budgeting concerns.

3. Lifestyle – As baby boomer began hitting their 30s and 40s, they began looking to live healthier lifestyles. It didn’t make sense to smoke a cigarette after spending time at the gym and returning home to eat a healthy dinner. Common sense started winning out over habit.

4. Nicotine Alternatives – Over the last 20 years, scientists have developed nicotine alternatives that provide satisfaction for the craving without the associated risks of tar and other chemicals. These alternatives include nicotine gum and patches, and natural substitutes such as caffeine and the herb kava-kava. Also, the use of nicotine alternatives represents a potential cost savings when compared to smoking regular cigarettes.

The reality is that the tobacco industry has been able to overcome one very important fact. Tobacco products causes cancer, and that’s a risk fewer people are willing to take. Below is a GIF map created by @MetricMaps which shows how cigarettes sales have declined state by state from 1970 to 2012. It’s Remarkable!

CLICK on the image below for a state-by-state breakdown to see how tobacco sales have dropped from 1970 to 2012.

Cigarette Sales in US from 1970 to 2012

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  • Ali Esmaili
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