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Cigarette Smoking Could Vanish From the U.S. by 2050, Says Analyst

By Eric Volkman - Mar 16, 2021 at 6:27PM

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The tobacco sector's incumbents will need to step up their game with next-generation products if they want to survive.

In less than three decades, we won't see a single person smoking a traditional cigarette in many parts of the world.

That, at least, is the striking conclusion reached in a new analysis from Citigroup (C -0.06%) prognosticator Adam Spielman. In a research note published Tuesday, the analyst pointed to numerous indicators showing that the consumption of traditional cigarettes -- as opposed to next-generation products such as vapes -- continues to decline.

"If the trends continue, then the percentage rate of decline will gradually increase, and cigarettes will disappear before 2050, from the U.S., parts of Europe, Australia, and large chunks of Latin America," Spielman concludes.

Girl holding her nose in car while adult driver smokes.

Image source: Getty Images.

This analysis serves as a stark warning to tobacco companies, particularly the large and powerful ones that concentrate on traditional cigarettes. Consider Altria (MO 0.00%), still a titan in the U.S. market. While it remains highly profitable, it has struggled to grow revenue meaningfully. One key reason for that is its continued reliance on traditional cigarettes as the anchor of its strategy; around 82% of its business derives from such products, according to Spielman.

As such, if they are to survive, it will be necessary for Altria and its peers to better develop and market those next-generation alternatives. Spielman points out, however, that tobacco incumbents are sometimes more observers than participants in this segment.

He cited Juul Labs and IQOS, two affiliated businesses of Altria that the company does not fully own or control. Juul Labs is only an investment (and a troubled one), while Altria is merely the marketing partner for IQOS, which was developed by Philip Morris International (PM 0.65%).

On Tuesday, Altria closed 0.8% lower, a steeper fall than the S&P 500 index's 0.2%. On the other hand, Philip Morris rose by 0.6%.

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Stocks Mentioned

Altria Group, Inc. Stock Quote
Altria Group, Inc.
$51.09 (0.00%) $0.00
Citigroup Inc. Stock Quote
Citigroup Inc.
$49.75 (-0.06%) $0.03
Philip Morris International Inc. Stock Quote
Philip Morris International Inc.
$101.15 (0.65%) $0.65

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