Decline in Cigarette Sales Offset by Use of Other Tobacco Products (OTP)..

June 10, 2008 - Research Letter: Trends in the Use of Cigarettes and OTP, 2000-2007, G. Connolly and H. Alpert, J. Amer. Med. Assoc. 299(22): 2629-2630, 2008. Between 2000 and 2007 cigarette sales in the U.S. declined 18 percent, from 21.1 billion packs to 17.4 billion packs. Over that same period, sales of OTP increased by the equivalent of 1.10 billion packs of cigarettes -- 714 million moist snuff, 256 million roll-your-own tobacco, and 130 million small cigars. This use of OTP offset the decline in cigarette sales by 30 percent. Cost is one reason for the upsurge in the use of non-cigarette tobacco products. Cigars, roll-your-own and smokeless tobacco products are generally priced lower than cigarettes. State and federal cigarette taxation polices appear to have been effective in reducing smoking, but small cigars and roll-your-own tobacco are taxed at 5 percent to 10 percent the rate of cigarettes, resulting in prices much less than an equivalent pack of cigarettes. Cigarette companies are responding to the changing pattern of consumption by entering other tobacco markets, including acquisition of major U.S. moist snuff manufacturer Conwood by R J Reynolds, and by marketing new snuff and snus (moist tobacco powder placed under the upper lip) products to attract new smokers and new tobacco users. The lower taxes and fewer indoor restrictions on snuff and other products may help explain the trend, underscoring the need for similar taxes on all tobacco products, Connolly emphasized. Smokeless tobacco is NOT a safe alternative to smoking and deserves no special treatment. Related paper: J. Bloom and M. Birnbaum, Low smokeless tobacco tax contributes to smokeless epidemic, Tobacco Control: 3: 299, 1994. Added references: Science Daily, Medical News and ( Click on image to enlarge..