Cigarettes were once prominently displayed in Hollywood films 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.
That has caused an existential crisis for tobacco companies.
Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA and the nation’s largest tobacco company, reported an almost 10% drop in cigarette sales last year compared with the year prior. The maker of Marlboro says it wants to help smokers transition away from cigarettes to what it calls “reduced harm alternatives” such as e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn products.
But Altria’s pivot has raised eyebrows among its critics. Cigarettes and cigars made up about 89% of sales last year.
So, are e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn products less harmful than traditional cigarettes? What effect will those devices have on kids?