Tobacco Under Siege

October 5, 1984

Report Outline
State of Industry
History of Supports
Smoking and Health

State of Industry

Sharp Decline in 1983 Cigarette Sales

Tobacco, America's oldest cash crop, is in trouble. Never before in its long, proud history has the golden leaf been under attack from more directions or its future more uncertain. Tobacco growers and cigarette manufacturers face a constant barrage of criticism because they deal in a product believed by most scientists and physicians to cause a host of serious, often fatal, diseases. Congress recently acted to require tougher health warnings on cigarette packs and advertising. The federal government and 38 states have enacted laws limiting smoking in public places. And smoking, once considered a rite of adult passage, is becoming less acceptable socially.

Until recently, health issues and anti-smoking campaigns have had a limited impact on the tobacco industry. The percentage of Americans who smoke is declining, but until 1982 the number of cigarettes sold steadily increased. In 1983, U.S. consumption of cigarettes dropped 5 percent below 1982, representing the largest percentage decline and the greatest drop in total cigarettes smoked on record. However, the decline is attributed to higher excise taxes, not to heightened concern over health.

Nonetheless, at least one cigarette manufacturer expects the decline to continue although at a slower rate. Gerald H. Long, the president of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the country's No. 2 cigarette manufacturer, anticipates an annual domestic decline in cigarette consumption of one-half to 1 percent. “I think there will be an end point [to the cigarette business], but the end point will probably be beyond our existence,” Long told the Winston-Salem Journal.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Smoking and the Tobacco Industry
May 10, 2019  E-Cigarette Dilemma
Sep. 19, 2014  E-Cigarettes
Dec. 10, 2004  Tobacco Industry Updated
Nov. 12, 1999  Closing In on Tobacco
Dec. 01, 1995  Teens and Tobacco
Sep. 30, 1994  Regulating Tobacco
Dec. 04, 1992  Crackdown on Smoking
Sep. 21, 1990  Tobacco Industry: on the Defensive, but Still Strong
Mar. 24, 1989  Who Smokes, Who Starts—and Why
Oct. 05, 1984  Tobacco Under Siege
Jan. 21, 1977  Anti-Smoking Campaign
Nov. 24, 1967  Regulation of the Cigarette Industry
Nov. 14, 1962  Smoking and Health
Farm Produce and Commodities