Tobacco Companies

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Call To Action

Tobacco companies should be strictly regulated in ways that minimize the harm caused by their products.

By volume; 2013 or latest available

The big business of tobacco is global in nature, and each part of the tobacco business, from growing the leaf to manufacturing products, contributes to the multi-billion dollar tobacco industry. Six companies lead the world’s tobacco business, but there are at least 40 smaller businesses or state-owned monopolies that manufacture cigarettes.

Each year, the tobacco industry produces six trillion cigarettes, enough to create a continuous chain from Earth to Mars and back, multiple times. Nearly 500 tobacco factories have been documented worldwide, with the location of another 200 suspected but unconfirmed.

China grows more tobacco, manufactures more cigarettes, and also consumes more tobacco than any other country in the world. China National Tobacco Corporation (CNTC) posted revenues of US$95.2 billion and profits of US$19 billion in 2011. The Chinese government profits financially from the manufacture and sale of tobacco, as well as from tobacco taxes collected by the government. CNTC contributes 7–10% of the country’s total annual revenue through tobacco tax and profits. The complicated relationship between the Chinese tobacco industry and tobacco control is best characterized by a 2012 report which stated, “China’s top political leadership and the national tobacco bureaucracy are among the most crucial stakeholders in the country’s tobacco development and control”.

In spite of decades’ worth of scientific and medical evidence about the dangers of smoking, one billion people continue to smoke worldwide. The decline in smoking rates in high-income countries is more than offset by increased tobacco use in middle- and low-income countries. Tobacco companies know they must find replacement smokers, and focus much of their effort in these low- and middle-income markets, which have the potential for economic and demographic growth, and thus increased profits.

“We have developed A CLEAR COMPETITIVE EDGE when it comes to reduced-risk products. We believe that these products may provide us with a unique opportunity for accelerated profitability growth over the longer term.” –André Calantzopoulos, Chief Executive Officer, Philip Morris International, 2014

“Neither nature, human evolution, nor fate created the new burdens of chronic diseases and injuries. Rather, it was HUMAN DECISIONS made in corporate boardrooms, advertising and lobbing firms, and legislative and judicial chambers.” –Nicholas Freudenberg, Lethal But Legal: Corporations, Consumption, and Protecting Public Health, 2014

Nicotine Market

Most of the major tobacco companies have expanded their product lines to include non-combustible nicotine products.

Recent moves by tobacco companies to consolidate the nicotine market:

2009: ALTRIA

Acquired U.S. SMOKELESS TOBACCO, the world’s leading moist smokeless tobacco manufacturer, for USD11.7 billion.


Acquired NICONOVUM AB, a Sweden-based nicotine replacement therapy company.

2010: BAT

Established NICOVENTURES to develop and commercialize non-nicotine tobacco products.

2011: JTI

Secured a minority share in PLOOM, a US company which developed a pocket-sized smoking device that heats tobacco
to vaporize nicotine and flavor.


Acquired BLU E-CIGS in 2012 for USD235 million. In 2013, Lorillard acquired British e-cigarette company SKYCIG for GBP30 million.




MARLBORO HEATSTICKS to be released in Japan and Italy in late 2014, and expanded to other markets in 2015.


In the ultimate market consolidation, Reynolds American has proposed a merger with Lorillard, pending regulatory approval. If the deal is finalized as proposed, it will merge the second and third largest tobacco companies in the USA.

Philip Morris International revenue increased by 18% between 2010 and 2013.

In 2013, Altria President and CEO, Martin Barrington, received $20,139,967 in compensation.

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