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Cigarettes sales up last year for first time in two decades

For the first time in two decades, cigarette sales increased last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, as tobacco companies also beefed up spending to promote their products (Source: “Cigarette sales went up last year for the first time in 20 years,” National Public Radio, Oct. 27).

The Federal Trade Commission, in its annual Cigarette Report, said that manufacturers sold 203.7 billion cigarettes in 2020, up from 202.9 billion in 2019 — an increase of 0.4%.

The cigarette companies, the report said, increased advertising and promotion to $7.84 billion in 2020 from $7.624 billion the previous year, concentrating the bulk of their spending in "price discounts paid to cigarette retailers in order to reduce the price of cigarettes to customers," the FTC said.