Americans found a novel way last way of dealing with the threat of coronavirus – smoke more.
Sales of cigarettes in the US went up in 2020 for the first time in twenty years, according to the latest data from the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC’s annual Cigarette Report said that manufacturers sold 203.7bn cigarettes in 2020, up from 202.9bn in 2019 — a modest increase of 0.4%.
All of the big four cigarette groups submitted data to the report, with increased promotional spending by the quartet cited as a reason for the increase.
Advertising and promotion expenditure rose to $7.84 bn in 2020 from US$7.62bn, with a big jump in the number of discounts offered to retailers.
The FTC did not say if coronavirus had been the reason for the rise in smoking, but the US press noted that Philip Morris owner Altria had highlighted stocking up ahead of lockdowns as a reason or increased sales in April 2020.
Smokers were also switching back to traditional cigarettes from vaping devices, according to the Wall Street Journal, even with the additional risks of coronavirus.
Heavy smokers were identified early as being at significant risk from the virus because of the impact it has on a person’s ability to breathe.
Market research data, this year, however, has suggested cigarette demand has resumed its pattern of long-term decline.