Cigarette Sales in 2020 Increased for First Time in Two Decades

Smokeless tobacco sales also rose from $4.53 billion in 2019 to $4.82 billion in 2020.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Annual cigarette sales increased for the first time in two decades, leaping from 202.9 billion units in 2019 to 203.7 billion units in 2020, according to the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) most recent Cigarette Report.

Spend on cigarette advertising and promotions also increased year over year from 2019 to 2020, from $7.62 billion to $7.84 billion.

Additionally, price discounts paid to cigarette retailers and wholesalers were the two largest expenditure categories — $6.07 billion and $876 million, respectively — last year. Combined spending on price discounts accounted for 88.5 percent of industry spending, the report revealed.

The FTC also found that smokeless tobacco sales rose in 2019 from 126 million pounds to 126.9 million pounds in 2020 in its latest 2020 Smokeless Tobacco Report. The revenue from those sales rose year over year from $4.53 billion to $4.82 billion.

Spending on advertising and promotion by the major manufacturers of smokeless tobacco products in the United States decreased from $576.1 million in 2019 to $567.3 million in 2020.

As with cigarettes, price discounts made up the two largest spending categories, with $296.6 million paid to retailers and $83.5 million paid to wholesalers. Combined spending on price discounts totaled $380.1 million — or 67.4 percent of all spending in 2020, up from the $376 million spent in 2019.

For the first time, the FTC reported sales of nicotine lozenges or nicotine pouches not containing tobacco. Last year, companies sold 140.7 million units of these products in the United States, for $420.5 million.

The commission's data also included information on smokeless tobacco flavors. Menthol flavored smokeless tobacco products comprised more than half of all sales revenues (54.5 percent); tobacco flavored products (no added flavor) comprised 43.4 percent; and fruit flavored smokeless tobacco products comprised 2.5 percent.

The FTC has issued the Cigarette Report periodically since 1967 and the Smokeless Tobacco Report periodically since 1987.