Smoking has been on my mind recently. My husband is a smoker. I am not.
What’s interesting is that in the midst of a global economic recession, big tobacco is doing just fine. According to a recent Associated Press report on tobacco earnings, Philip Morris International’s 2008 profits are up 20 percent and Reynolds American raised its full-year forecast despite decrease in sales volume (think higher prices, lucky smokers). Ch-ching!
Plus, we’re talking about a market of ever increasing taxes on cigarettes. Raising cigarette taxes reduces consumption, especially among kids … but although demand may decrease (decreasing the number of cigarettes smoked), the number of people quitting smoking doesn’t. Simply, the fact that cigarettes (and smokeless tobacco products) are selling as well as ever reaffirms the power of the pull.
As cigarettes perpetuate lifelong addiction, the fact that sales are doing OK is not surprising. But what constantly surprises me is that in hard times addicts hold on to their addictions rather than deal with them. In fact, it seems like hard economic times have the power to reinforce identity, so that smokers might set themselves even further apart from those who don’t smoke.
I smoke, therefore I am.
What have YOU noticed in your community? Are people smoking more? Less? Is anyone quitting? How attached are the smokers around you to their cigarettes? And what economic penalties need be incurred before a smoker totally stops?