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 on the companies that produce nicotine-based products is a necessary precursor to developing policies that promote smoking cessation and harm reduction worldwide. The Global Trends in Nicotine reports help lay the groundwork for the Foundation’s efforts in the area of industry transformation and represent an important component of the Foundation’s research program. Specifically, the 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 will over time evaluate the largest nicotine delivery companies in the world.

Highlights of the 2019 Global Trends in Nicotine update include:

  • Total global retail value associated with the nicotine ecosystem during 2018 was more than $800 billion USD, through the sale of an estimated 6.1 trillion retail cigarette stick equivalents.
  • The fastest growing product categories offer alternative forms of nicotine delivery to consumers. E-cigarette sales increased more than 30% in 2018; and heated tobacco product volumes more than doubled. By contrast, traditional forms of nicotine delivery are generally declining by volume.
  • E-cigarette and heated tobacco product categories constituted less than 2% each of the global nicotine ecosystem by retail value; however, in recent years their sales have far surpassed those of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products.
  • We estimate that the global nicotine ecosystem declined at a three-year compounded annual growth rate of about 1.1%. By comparison, the US nicotine ecosystem increased slightly in 2018 at a rate of approximately 2.5%, which compares to the three-year compounded annual growth rate of about 1.3%. The competing market forces in the US are accelerating cigarette volume declines and increasing e-cigarette demand.

Key highlights published in the initial 2018 Global Trends in Nicotine report:

  • Cigarettes remain the dominant nicotine delivery vehicle worldwide.
  • The six largest tobacco companies generated about 80% of the nicotine-related product retail volume 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 was the largest producer at 38% global nicotine ecosystem retail volume share, followed by the five publicly traded tobacco companies headquartered in Europe, Japan, and the United States.
  • 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. Retail sales data do not capture illicit trade or locally manufactured combustible tobacco products.

Please download the reports to access supporting details, including identification of the major nicotine delivery producers by product category and by WHO region, along with selected analyses of specific product dynamics and country trends through mid-2019.

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