Smoking losing its cool over declining sales

smoking cigarette

World sales of cigarettes have been declining continuously for the last 40 years courtesy of a mixture of government interventions such as educational campaigns and advertising bans.

However, in Greece, successive governments have encountered resistance to applying EU non-smoking regulations with newly elected Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis making it his mission to enforce smoking bans and regulations in the hope Greece’s citizens and businesses comply.

According to a survey by the European Commission, Greece is the EU’s heaviest smoking country with 37% smokers against 44% who said they’ve never smoked. After Greece, France and Bulgaria were tied in second place, both with a 36% smoking rate, followed by Croatia at 35%.

According to the US Federal Trade Commission, the number of cigarettes that the largest cigarette companies in the United States sold to wholesalers and retailers nationwide declined from 229.1 billion in 2017 to 216.9 billion in 2018, according to the most recent Federal Trade Commission Cigarette Report.

smoking decline graph

The amount spent on cigarette advertising and promotion decreased from $8.64 billion in 2017 to $8.40 billion in 2018. Price discounts paid to cigarette retailers ($6.15 billion) and wholesalers ($1.05 billion) were the two largest expenditure categories in 2018. Combined spending on price discounts decreased from $7.38 billion in 2017 to $7.21 billion in 2018, accounting for 85.8 percent of industry spending.

According to the 2018 Smokeless Tobacco Report, smokeless tobacco sales decreased from 130.9 million pounds in 2017 to 128.4 million pounds in 2018. The revenue from those sales rose, from $4.20 billion in 2017 to $4.37 billion in 2018.

Spending on advertising and promotion by the major manufacturers of smokeless tobacco products in the U.S. decreased from $718.3 million in 2017 to $658.5 million in 2018. As with cigarettes, price discounts made up the two largest spending categories, with $312.2 million paid to retailers and $101.1 million paid to wholesalers. Combined spending on price discounts totaled $413.2 million—or 62.8 percent of all spending in 2018, down from the $438.5 million spent in 2017.

In the United States, the number of cigarette smokers while also declining has not dropped at a similar rate as cigarette sales over the past four decades. According to the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 34.2 million adults in the U.S. were smoking cigarettes in 2018, down 34 percent from 51.6 million in 1980.