Global cigarette consumption, excluding China, contracted in 2010 with major companies reporting lower volumes but generally growing their global flagship brands. Pricing strength is even more a key to profitability than 2009. Product mix improvements are evident as are examples of migrations to mid-price and economy brands, though the premium sector is still generally hanging tough.
The industry’s already restrictive operating environment could be entering a phase of accelerated deterioration for tobacco companies with the first plain packaging legislation on the way and the advent of the 75% pack-covering health warning. Smoking prevalence is being affected by the rising tide of tobacco control legislation, though is maintaining growth in developing markets.
Reduced harm is moving centre stage with the popularity of e-cigs, possibly indicating a shift from the tobacco burning cigarette to the non-cigarette nicotine delivery mechanism. Is the BAT Nicoventures move a pointer to the future?