Smoking’s Long Decline Is Over (partly due to lockdowns)
Wall Street Journal ^ | January 28, 2021
The decadeslong decline in U.S. cigarette sales halted last year as people in lockdown lit up more frequently and health concerns around e-cigarettes caused some vapers to switch back to cigarettes.
Before the pandemic, U.S. cigarette unit sales had been falling at an accelerating rate, hitting 5.5% in 2019, as smokers quit or switched to alternatives like e-cigarettes. The pandemic put the brakes on that slide. In 2020, the U.S. cigarette industry’s unit sales were flat compared to the previous year, according to data released Thursday by Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc.
People had more opportunities to smoke because they spent more time at home and had more money to spend on cigarettes because they spent less on gas, travel and entertainment, Altria said. They drank more liquor, too, buoying spirits makers.
At the same time, some e-cigarette users turned back to combustible cigarettes because of increased e-cigarette taxes, bans on flavored vaping products and confusion about the health effects of vaping, consumers and industry officials say. Altria on Thursday didn’t offer a projection for cigarette sales in 2021, saying it would depend in part on the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine and how consumers’ behavior changes after they are vaccinated.
U.S. cigarette sales were even stronger last year than they were in 2015, when gas prices dropped sharply, allowing consumers more discretionary spending, and many people switched back to cigarettes after trying first-generation vaping devices. Those early products didn’t deliver nicotine effectively enough to satisfy some addicted cigarette smokers.
Perhaps it’s also that people are getting sick and tired of Public Health alarmism. There has to be a point where people just switch off and stop listening. I’ve been sick of it for years. In fact I’ve been sick of it for as long as I can remember.
I’m also thoroughly sick of Global Warming alarmism. And Covid-19 alarmism. And flu scares. And fast food warnings/. And multiplying road traffic signs. And ominous weather forecasts. And earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. And car seat belts. The list is endless.
I’m surprised we aren’t getting asteroid impact warnings. Hundreds of them land on earth every day. And many of them are predictable.
So, yes, I can foresee a day when people living in Barnsley or Brighton are told to tie pillows on their heads and climb under their beds at 3:15 pm next Thursday. It’s the Precautionary Principle. It could Save Lives. Everyone scared of everything.