Americans are smoking more during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to executives at Altria, which manufactures Marlboro cigarettes.
Americans have more time to smoke, and have more money to pay for cigarettes because they are spending less on travel and entertainment, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Increased unemployment benefits and stimulus checks have made it easier for low- and middle-income smokers to purchase cigarettes, according to Altria Chief Executive Billy Gifford.“Fewer social engagements allow for more tobacco-use occasions,” he told analysts on an earnings call.
In the wake of federal restrictions on e-cigarette flavors, Americans are switching back from vaping devices to traditional cigarettes, according to Altria.
Before the pandemic, Altria expected U.S. cigarette unit sales to decline this year by 4% to 6%. Now they expect sales to fall by 2% to 3.5%. Marlboro accounts for 43% of all cigarettes sold in the U.S.