Skip to main content

Global Trends in Nicotine

The purpose of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World is to improve global health by ending smoking in this generation. Establishing a complete data set that encompasses the companies that produce nicotine-based products is a necessary precursor to developing effective policies that promote the Foundation’s purpose of smoking cessation and harm reduction worldwide.

The Global Trends in Nicotine report contributes to laying the groundwork for the Foundation’s work in the area of industry transformation, and represents an important step in the Foundation’s research program. Specifically, this report identifies the major players in nicotine delivery, outlines their product organization and geographic focus, and quantifies their output primarily on a relative basis. Building upon this work, the Smoke-Free Index® will over time evaluate 15 of the largest nicotine delivery companies in the world.

Here is a summary of the key highlights published in the Global Trends in Nicotine report:

  • Cigarettes remain the dominant nicotine delivery vehicle worldwide.
  • Total global retail sales associated with the nicotine ecosystem during 2017 were about $785 billion USD.
  • The six largest tobacco companies generated about 80% of the nicotine-related product retail volume (in cigarette stick equivalents) globally during 2017.
  • On the basis of cigarette stick equivalents across the multiple product categories, we estimated a total retail volume of about 6.1 trillion for 2017. Factoring in illicit trade and locally manufactured combustible tobacco products yielded a global total approaching 7.1 trillion cigarette stick equivalents.
  • China National Tobacco Corporation is the largest producer at 38% retail volume share, followed by the five publicly traded tobacco companies headquartered in Europe, Japan, and the United States.
  • We estimated that global cigarette unit volumes decreased by about 1.4% in 2017 from the previous year. Unit growth rates associated with the other product categories varied mainly from slightly positive to slightly negative. The major outlier regarding growth was the vapor products category, which consists of vaping and heated tobacco products.
  • Organized according to the World Health Organization (WHO) regional structure, the nicotine ecosystems in three regions are relatively large compared with their underlying populations—namely, the European, Western Pacific, and Americas Regions. The regions are home to some of the largest nicotine markets in the world—China, the United States, and Western Europe. Conversely, the nicotine ecosystems in three regions are relatively small compared with their underlying populations— the South-East Asia, African, and Eastern Mediterranean Regions. These findings are due in part to the nature of the data. Retail sales data do not capture illicit trade or locally manufactured combustible tobacco products, for example, bidis in India.
  • The underlying dynamics associated with the nicotine ecosystem are in flux owing to technological innovation, particularly in the e-cigarette category. For example, we found that the innovation driving the e-cigarette market allowed it to surpass nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products by retail sales value several years ago.

Please download the report to access the supporting detail, including identification of the major nicotine delivery producers by product category and by WHO region, along with selected analyses of specific product dynamics and countries.

[1] Copyright © Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, 2018. All rights reserved.