Cigarettes they were once featured prominently in Hollywood movies and glossy magazines. But decades of evidence that smoking kills has caused consumption to plummet.
The tobacco industry sold fewer than 11 billion packs of cigarettes in the U.S. in 2020, down from more than 21 billion packs two decades earlier, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This caused an existential crisis tobacco companies.
Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA and the nation’s largest tobacco company, reported a nearly 10% year-over-year decline in cigarette sales last year. The maker of Marlboro says it wants to help smokers switch from cigarettes to what it calls “alternatives with reduced harm” such as e-cigarettes and products that do not burn heat.
But Altria’s pivot has raised eyebrows among its critics. Cigarettes and cigars accounted for roughly 89% of sales last year.
So are e-cigarettes and heat-resistant products less harmful than traditional cigarettes? What effect will these devices have on children?