The market for smokeless tobacco keeps on growing

Dan Gorenstein Jun 17, 2014
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The market for smokeless tobacco keeps on growing

Dan Gorenstein Jun 17, 2014
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Smokeless tobacco is about a $6 billion industry, says Bloomberg Industries analyst Kenneth Shea.

“Growing sales [are] at about a 6 percent annual rate, which is pretty good, particularly compared to cigarettes which grow at about 1 percent a year,” he says.

Shea says cigarette sales still command 85 percent of total tobacco sales, but products like chew and snuff are growing. Part of the draw, says Shea is that it’s getting harder and harder to find a place where you can smoke.

Harvard Public Health Professor Gregory Connolly says R.J. Reynolds and Altria parent company of Phillip Morris – have also done a great job luring consumers in.

“You can get twice the amount of nicotine out of a tin of Copenhagen than you do out of a pack of Marlboros,” he says.

Connolly says part of the problem is that regulations aren’t as tight for smokeless tobacco as they are for cigarettes.

“We banned all candy-like flavors, so you can’t get cherry cigarettes,” he says. “But [we] totally exempted smokeless tobacco. So you can buy lemon smokeless tobacco, minty smokeless tobacco, you name it.”

The National Institutes of Health considers chew a growing national problem.

Northwestern oncologist Dr. Mark Agulnik says he sees evidence of the product’s popularity in his office every day.

“We certainly see fewer smokers. The only group that has not changed over time is the group that has been exposed to smokeless tobacco,” he says.

Agulnik says he’s not sure whether the death of famous baseball player Tony Gwynn will slow smokeless tobacco sales.

But the doctor says at least people are talking about chew.

Something he says they weren’t doing last week.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.