January 10, 2011 - Citigroup analyst Adam Spielman says research shows there may be almost no smokers in 30 to 50 years' time. Data used by the investment bank revealed the percentage of adult smokers in the UK has fallen from 53 percent in 1960 to 21 percent in 2008. He said: 'If these trends continue, then by 2050 many important tobacco markets will have gone to zero smoking.'
The report said: 'Taking the very long view, it's hard to ignore 50 years of data. Smoking rates appear to be falling in a series of straight lines. 'If this continues, and it has for 50 years, then it means that the percentage declines in volumes will gradually accelerate.' It added: 'It is quite possible that there will be no smokers left in Britain or many other developed countries in about 30-50 years.'
The report led to share drops in value for the tobacco sector yesterday. Tobacco stocks have long been considered reliable holdings for share portfolios because profits keep growing as prices rise.
But the Citigroup report could spark deeper fears that demand will begin to drop and outstrip the rate at which packet prices go up. Smoking has declined consistently since the 60s as people became more wary of the health risks. It was banned in public places in the UK in 2007
The industry is facing other challenges because the Government has signalled it plans to force through plain packaging. However, Citigroup's analysts suggested this move - if implemented - would have little impact on smoking rates or profits.
Reference: Smoking 'could almost vanish in Britain by 2050' by Daily Mail Reporter, DailyMail.co.uk.
(British, United Kingdom, Brits, Isles)