While lighting up a cigarette was once considered a sign of class and sophistication or, at the very least, an act of coolness, smoking seems to have lost some of its spark in recent years. According to a new report published by the Federal Trade Commission, cigarette sales in the United States dropped to 216.9 billion in 2018, the lowest level since the FTC started tracking cigarette sales in 1967.
As our chart illustrates, cigarette sales have declined more or less continuously over the past 40 years, dropping by 66 percent since peaking in the early 1980s. Over the same period, cigarette advertising and promotional spending increased from $1.2 billion in 1980 to $8.4 billion in 2018, most of which came in the form of price discounts for retailers and wholesalers.
Interestingly, the number of cigarette smokers in the United States, while also declining, has not dropped at a similar rate as cigarette sales over the past four decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 34.2 million adults in the U.S. were smoking cigarettes in 2018, down 34 percent from 51.6 million in 1980.