Global Trends in Nicotine | Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

global trends in nicotine

This page was last edited on December 21, 2021.

The Global Trends in Nicotine reports establish the groundwork for the Foundation’s efforts in the area of industry transformation. Specifically, the series of reports identify the major players in nicotine delivery, outline their product organization and geographic focus, and quantify their relative output. Building on this work, the Tobacco Transformation Index ™ evaluates 15 of the largest nicotine delivery companies in the world over time.

The most recent report updates the record with data from 2020, finding that cigarettes remain the primary nicotine delivery mechanism. Production is dominated by the large global tobacco companies and, in some cases, the regional and/or state-owned tobacco companies. Nevertheless, the underlying dynamics are in flux due to technological innovation, notably in heated tobacco and vaping products.

Highlights from the 2021 report include:

  • In 2020, global nicotine ecosystem retail sales totaled more than $850 billion. Cigarettes made up 84% of the global retail nicotine ecosystem by retail value sales. Combustible tobacco products constituted 93% of the same measure.
  • Approximately 5.2 trillion retail cigarette sticks were sold during 2020, compared to 5.4 trillion in 2017. This figure nears 5.6 trillion cigarette sticks when illicit trade is included.
  • Global retail cigarette unit volumes decreased at a compound annual growth rate of 1.4% between 2017 and 2020.
  • The six largest tobacco companies generated more than 86% of cigarette retail volume sales globally in 2020.
  • Vaping products made up about 2.5% of the global nicotine ecosystem, followed by heated tobacco products, 2.4%; smokeless tobacco products, 1.6%; NRT smoking cessation aids, 0.3%; and tobacco-free oral nicotine, 0.1%.
  • The vaping products category remains largely fragmented and is not dominated by the largest tobacco companies.
  • The emergence of a relatively new category, tobacco-free oral nicotine, is one of the notable developments in the global nicotine ecosystem in recent years. From a small base, tobacco-free oral nicotine registered the highest growth rate among all categories for the period 2017-2020.

For more details, read the reports.

Skip to content
WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux