It has often been said
that the tobacco industry is, if not immune, than at least resistant to economic woe. In fact, history has often shown that during times of financial uncertainty, people want to smoke more as they turn to something familiar, comforting, and (before government levies entered the picture) relatively cheap. But can the same be said for today’s industry? Unfortunately, “no” seems to be the answer (for the more on the exact figures, see “A Terrible Year” on page 28).
Today’s global market place is a far more menacing and alien landscape from even that of five years ago, let alone from that of decades past. In the early aughts, a person smoking a cigarette in public (gasp!) was still not a rare and cherished sight in the cafes of Europe, the bars of the United States, or even in the public buildings of the Middle and Far East. A pack of cigarettes used to be an economically-accessible diversion for any average person - this was, of course, before the allure of cigarettes filling public coffers captivated the imaginations of local authorities around the globe. And furthermore, to compensate for a need that has never dissipated despite global bureaucracy’s best attempts, a worldwide pirate industry has risen to supply counterfeit cigarettes at a literally unbeatable price, while funneling funds into some of the world’s most detestable hands.
This is not your father’s marketplace.
While the industry will never regain the position it held even a decade ago, the truth of the matter is that tobacco will never go away. This publication has exhaustively covered the industry’s push towards diversification in the form of snus, cigars, and cigarillos. Snus is surely to be a growing product that offers a nicotine fix in the form of a safer non-combustible delivery system. Cigars and cigarillos will always find a place with the aficionados who will appreciate the craftsmanship and subtleties of a finely rolled smoke. And there will still be a market for cigarettes, however diminished. The key to the future will be maneuverability and diversification. Stay nimble and quick and you might just win the prize on the other end of the minefield.
- E. D.
Tobacco International - October, 2009
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