Cigarettes, smoking and smokeless tobacco : business is booming!

In the midst of a global economic recession, big tobacco is doing just fine. Although smokers are cutting back on quantity, they are NOT quitting. And that’s just what Big Tobacco hopes for. Is anyone else noticing the ugly cycle of smoking addiction?

minute read

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?

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I have read and agree to the conditions outlined in the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

  1. I have FINALLY quit smoking after 40 years, 30 of which were spent trying to quit. I told my daughter I knew I would never quit, and she said “So why don’t you just quit tar?”

    So now I’ve switched to electronic cigarettes, which have NO ill effects regarding second-hand vapor, and involve no smoke inhalation.

    I’ve stopped wheezing all night, I can now get up 2 flights of stairs without stopping to catch my breath on the landings.

    And although I get cravings, they are very mild compared to the cravings I got with patches, hypnosis, cold turkey, or all the other quitting methods I tried.

    I’m terrified the FDA will use misrepresentations of old test results, combined with ignoring recent research, to push a “Quit or Die” agenda for purely idiological reasons, and I’ll end up smoking again.

    I need my vapor, my flavors, my hand-to-mouth motion, and my nicotine (which is similar to caffeine in the amounts found in e-cigs, and does not cause drunk driving, intoxication, or job loss) in order to stay free of combustible tobacco products. Please help me stay “on the wagon!”

  2. I’ve been smoking for 5 years now, i do regret starting. Now i feel like i need them to go about my day. As soon as i wake up, after i eat, break at work, going for a walk, i even smoke in my apartment (which is something i told myself i would never do)… I have tried vapor cigs, ( the site drew me in because it had tons of different flavor cartridges and no chemicals,but the problem i had with them was that, they needed to be charged at a certain point. Also i could never tell when i needed to order more until it was too late and the cartridges ran out, therefore i was buying cigs during the waiting period for my new orders…i eventually got tired of wasting money on both and went back to the marlboro’s.. However, i do know people who have had great success with the vapors.

  3. The reason I am so Passionate about electronic cigarettes is because I lost my DAD in 1998 due to Lung Cancer. I wish electronic cigarettes were around at that time because he was very open minded and maybe he would still be around Today. I also have quite a larger Family and have seen many other Family member pass away of cancer.

  4. Hi, First of all I would like to appreciate you that you selected a topic on which most of us ignore or don’t want to discuss. Now a days smoking is used as a status symbol in our community among youngsters mostly. You asked about smoker more or less in proportionality? I thing number of smoker increases day by day and specially maximum of our young generation are coming into this. Number of quitting smokers is less then number of addicted smoker. I used to smoke when I was in university. Now I have quit it for last 2year. I think everything is possible in this world if you have a strong will to do it. I have studied precautions at tobacco directory related to quit smoking and and live a healthier life. Tax increment is a good mean of punishment.

  5. Pain and awareness – at least scientific awareness – need not be the only motivations for change…

    I was a smoker – here’s how i quit (quoting from a post it note i wrote the night i threw my last pack of cigarettes away):

    “The cure to addiction:
    The will to write you OWN story
    Not an addict’s”

  6. Isn’t it interesting how sometimes we can twist messages to suit our needs? Like I said in my PSA review from the 80’s, sometimes these warnings against drugs and alcohol would fuel my addictions. Kind of like laughing in the face of someone telling me what to do. is THE SPOT to view the frank and sometimes hilarious videos that are on television. Those people are clever and outrageous!

    There’s also something about the stigma of addiction that keeps people from talking about it. I think as recovery advocates that we can try to de-stigmatize addiction as a moral issue and educate people about the real chemical and biophysical nature of the disease. From nicotine to heroin. BTW — congratulations on the smoking cessation. That’s more than 6 months!

  7. I believe you are right. But, this challenges our society to think outside of the box… Let’s face it. People don’t see the negative effects of their smoking as readily as the homeless heroin user. Ultimately, negative consequences were what brought about the change.

    Speaking of thinking, I do think that the “truth” commercials are interesting. They have been around for a little while now and didn’t do a whole lot to motivate me. As sick as this sounds, sometimes they made me want a cigarette. However, I think that they could be quite beneficial at inspiring people to change. They bring up a lot of useful information regarding big tobacco and the hazardous effects of the products they sell.

    Big tobacco will never go anywhere unless the people choose to force them out of business. People blame their children’s tobacco use on commercials directed towards teens, etc. I learned how to smoke from my parents (my dad has since quit) and even bought the same brand they did.

    I started smoking because other people were smoking. I had consequences as a resutl. I quit because other people were quitting. If they can do it, why can’t I? That has to be the attitude. “The therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel.”

  8. Thanks so much for sharing, Cole. Your observation about the need for motivation is astute. People WILL do anything to maintain an addiction … until pain or awareness motivates them to change. The question seems to be: How can we, as a society, assist in this process?

  9. I lived in the grips of my cigarette (and sometimes smokeless tobacco) addiction for many years. I will admit that it was a relatively shorter period than many. I quit in April 2008 and the obsession continues to stay constant. I am also in recovery from drugs and alcohol. Cigarettes often carry an obsession that was not present with the drugs.

    My nicotine addiction was insane. Much like it is for many people. I would smoke when I was sick and my lungs were congested with mucus. It would hurt and I would smoke almost as much as I would have I not been sick.

    I used to wait tables at a local restaurant. The policy for smoking while on the clock was to make sure that it didn’t interfere with your service at your tables. I would often be so busy that I might have a 3-5 minute interval to “break.” Many times I had to pee too. On came the struggle of trying to decide which to choose. Cigarettes never lost. Never.

    I would buy packages of ramen noodles and a carton of cigarettes when grocery shopping with little money.

    I find it no surprise that, of all the industries, big tobacco is not struggling. I know other people that are just like me. I have noticed more people quitting but I don’t know that financial issues are the underlying reason. It could definitely play a part, but I don’t think that it is the major motivating factor.

    I don’t know if an economic factor can occur to prevent people from smoking. There are so many smokers that even those who cannot afford to buy their own have no trouble finding someone who is willing to share. Finances may not be the issue that is the instigator. It is sad to say that most will die as a result of their tobacco use.

    One of the main problems is that most people do not look at nicotine addiction as a disease. Drug and alcohol addiction is still not widely accepted as a disease. Addiction implies disease to me. Until more U.S. citizens are willing to look at how the drug controls their mind, body, and spirit not much will be done.

I am ready to call
i Who Answers?