Cigarettes are the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. Almost twice as many Americans die from smoking-related illnesses – nearly half a million per year – than from obesity, alcohol, automobiles, and guns combined. The accelerating decline in cigarette consumption reinforces our mission to eliminate the use of combustible cigarettes among adult smokers.
The latest U.S. syndicated data tracking cigarette sales are showing sustained declines, while JUUL continues to gain share of combined cigarette pack and JUULpod volumes. In the most recent Nielsen data for the four-week period ending May 18, 2019, cigarette volumes faced a year-over-year decline of a staggering -11.2 percent — the largest year-over-year decline in the available Nielsen data.
This unprecedented decline is a continuation of the disruption the cigarette industry has faced since the second half of 2018, where the cigarette category faced then-historic volume declines averaging more than 5 percent as JUUL’s percent share of U.S. cigarette packs plus JUULpods increased. Those cigarette declines have continued to accelerate into 2019. The impact of this disruption is significant, as even a 1 percent annual decline in cigarette volumes represents approximately 125 million packs of combustible cigarettes disappearing from the U.S. category.
David Sweanor of the Center for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa said in the Winston-Salem Journal that this latest report “is yet more evidence of how significantly disruption has hit the tobacco/nicotine market.” Sweanor added that “this, in turn, raises the question of just how much more rapidly the use of lethal cigarettes could decline if public awareness and public policy were to facilitate, rather than obstruct, such a transition.”
Multiple factors have driven the long-term trend in cigarette declines, but we believe the largest recent contributor, particularly over the past 12 months, has been the growth of JUUL products as a true alternative for adult smokers.
These data are an encouraging trend and are why JUUL Labs will continue to tirelessly work to eliminate cigarettes.