Cigarette Consumption Drops

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Cigarette Consumption Drops

WASHINGTON -- People in the United States smoked 422 billion cigarettes last year, down 2 percent from 2000, as higher prices and tougher regulations kept many from lighting up, the U.S. Agriculture Department said in a report released yesterday.

"Health concerns, an aggressive anti-smoking campaign, price increases and decreased social acceptance of smoking continue to affect U.S. consumption," the USDA said in its monthly tobacco report. For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. cigarette production fell, to 580 billion cigarettes in 2001, down from 595 billion the previous year. For 2002, production was expected to remain unchanged.

"The U.S. cigarette industry has stabilized after higher prices and tax increases caused lower production during the past few years," the USDA said.

Demand could decline further if lawmakers continue their tenacious campaign to restrict smoking in public arenas. New York, the largest U.S. city, is considering joining two states -- California and Delaware -- and scores of towns that ban smoking in almost every workplace, as well as all bars and restaurants.

World cigarette production declined slightly in 2001 to 5.470 trillion, down from 5.468 trillion the previous year. Increased production in China and Germany helped offset the decline in the United States. China, the world's largest cigarette producer, made 1.71 trillion smokes, up 8 billion from 2000. Germany produced 213.8 billion cigarettes, up from 206.8 billion in 2000. The German increase was due to rising demand in France, Spain and Italy.