Good News for Cool People: Cigarettes Are Back

Sales are up for the first time in twenty years.

Young girl wearing medical protective mask lights up, holding a cigarette in her mouth through the m...

There is nothing like the worldwide spread of a highly contagious and deadly respiratory disease to put things in perspective. Life is short. We have to make the most of the time we have. We can’t take anything for granted. We need to smoke as many cigarettes as possible before death, and we need to buy them in mass quantities in case there is a supply shortage. Live, laugh, love.

Yes, for the first time in twenty years, cigarette sales are up. The Federal Trade Commission’s annual Cigarette Report reported that manufacturers sold 203.7 billion cigarettes in 2020, up from 202.9 billion in 2019. NPR tells me this is an increase of 0.4%, and I defer to them on the math. Also up was the amount cigarette manufacturers spent on advertising and promotion: $7.84 billion in 2020 from $7.624 billion in 2019. The bulk of the money went to, again according to the FTC’s report, "price discounts paid to cigarette retailers in order to reduce the price of cigarettes to customers.” Aw. :)

Although the report does not speculate on the cause of why cigarette sales rose during the pandemic, NPR points out that a Bloomberg report from April 2020 noted that Altria Group's (the group that manufactures Marlboros) first quarter sales rose in part because of "bulk purchases — what the company calls 'pantry loading.’” It can be reasonably assumed this was done for the same reason we were all “pantry loading” — usually on “whatever soup the store had left” – which is fear of a looming supply shortage.

Now that everybody’s cool and addicted again, though, there’s nothing to fear. That is, of course, unless you’re a nerd. Oh, and unless there is actually a looming supply shortage this time, ha-ha, better stock up!