Speed Reads

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

Cigarette sales are plummeting. But tobacco company profits are still booming.

The number of cigarettes sold in the U.S. fell by 37 per­cent from 2001 to 2016. But revenues at U.S. tobacco com­pa­nies rose by 32 percent over the same period, to an estimated $93.4 billion.

Why? Even taking into account the increasing regulations, declining sales, and massive amounts of lawsuits the industry faced, companies have been able to retain and add to their profits by increasing the prices of cigarette packs. While an average pack cost about $3.73 in 2001, that number rose to $6.42 in 2016 — nearly double.