Cigarettes are one of the most widely used and harmful tobacco products in the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco kills up to half of its users and more than 8 million people each year, including around 1.2 million deaths from exposure to second-hand smoke (1). Tobacco use also contributes to poverty, environmental damage and social injustice. So who benefits from the sale of cigarettes
The Tobacco Industry
The obvious answer is the tobacco industry, which consists of companies that grow, manufacture, market and sell tobacco products. The tobacco industry is a highly profitable and influential sector that has a long history of deception, manipulation and interference with public health policies. The tobacco industry benefits from the sale of cigarettes by generating billions of dollars in revenue and profits every year. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the combined profits of the world's six largest tobacco companies in 2019 were $35.1 billion (2). That is equivalent to $67,000 per minute.
Another group that benefits from the sale of cigarettes are the retailers who sell them to consumers. Retailers include convenience stores, gas stations, supermarkets, pharmacies and online vendors. Retailers benefit from the sale of cigarettes by earning commissions, fees and incentives from the tobacco industry. According to a report by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in 2018, cigarette manufacturers paid $8.9 billion to retailers and wholesalers for promotional allowances, such as discounts, rebates, coupons and display payments (3). Retailers also benefit from the sale of cigarettes by attracting customers who may buy other products along with tobacco.
A third group that benefits from the sale of cigarettes are the governments that tax them. Governments benefit from the sale of cigarettes by collecting revenues that can be used for various purposes, such as health care, education and social services. According to the WHO, in 2018, global tobacco excise taxes generated $269 billion in government revenues (1). However, only a small fraction of these revenues are invested in tobacco control measures that could save lives and reduce costs. The WHO recommends that governments increase tobacco taxes to at least 75% of the retail price of tobacco products, as this is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use and its consequences (1).
In conclusion, the sale of cigarettes benefits mainly the tobacco industry, the retailers and the governments that tax them. However, these benefits come at a high cost for public health, the environment and human rights. The sale of cigarettes harms millions of people who use them or are exposed to their smoke, as well as millions more who suffer from tobacco-related diseases and premature deaths. The sale of cigarettes also harms the planet by contributing to deforestation, pollution and climate change. The sale of cigarettes also harms society by fueling poverty, inequality and corruption. Therefore, it is imperative that we take action to end the tobacco epidemic and protect ourselves and future generations from its devastating effects. aa16f39245