Filter cigarettes set for global sales of US$561bn in 2020, a loss of US$56bn to the industry as COVID-19 causes significant drop in tobacco consumption

Filter cigarettes remain the largest selling tobacco product with global forecast sales of US$651bn in 2020, an 8% drop on sales of US$707bn in 2019, according to the latest estimates from GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

This is a potential revenue loss of US$56bn for the tobacco industry as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause significant numbers of consumers to quit tobacco products. For plain cigarettes, the fall is higher at 11%, and in niche categories like chewing tobacco, forecast sales are expected to drop by 13% in 2020. 

Ryan Whittaker, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Our data seems to corroborate what others, such as University College London, have found—people are quitting tobacco during the pandemic, and this is especially pronounced among younger people. Many younger consumers are working in less-secure jobs and are more likely to move back with their parents upon losing employment.

“Lower disposable income from lack of employment, lockdown-related closures and social distancing have all resulted in fewer social settings for smokers. GlobalData’s most recent consumer survey* found that around 8% of global consumers, which included more millennials than any other age group, intend to stop buying tobacco and tobacco alternatives, considering them to be beyond their current shopping budgets.

“Regardless of age, many consumers are understandably concerned about their respiratory health, due to COVID-19’s propensity to attack the lungs. Our survey also found that over a quarter (26%) of global consumers are extremely concerned about their physical fitness and health with only 14% saying they are not concerned at all. 

“As things stand, we expect that it will take at least until 2023 for global tobacco sales values to fully recover.”

* COVID-19 recovery tracker consumer survey, 9th September 2020

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