Feds say drop in cash spent on tobacco promotion

Associated Press Modified: September 21, 2012 at 1:32 pm •  Published: September 21, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The nation's top tobacco companies spent less money on advertising and promotion of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products in recent years, according to the latest data from the Federal Trade Commission.

Numbers released Friday show cigarette marketing decreased more than 5 percent to $8.05 billion in 2010, the latest year available, compared with a year earlier. Meanwhile, cigarette sales decreased about 3 percent to 281.6 billion cigarettes in the same period.

As in years past, much of the money spent by cigarette makers, about 81 percent or $6.49 billion, was for price discounts paid to retailers and wholesalers to reduce the price of cigarettes to consumers as the average price per pack continued to increase to $5.73 in 2010. Rising prices stemmed from a large federal tax increase on tobacco products in 2009, coupled with various state tax increases.

In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration also was given authority to regulate the industry, which included further marketing restrictions, including a ban on tobacco companies sponsoring athletic, social and cultural events or offering free samples or branded merchandise. Several other tobacco marketing changes are being challenged in federal court.

According to the latest numbers, money spent on marketing smokeless tobacco products decreased nearly 10 percent to $444.2 million from 2009 to 2010 as sales increased 6.5 percent. Companies spent about 19 percent, or $95 million, on price discounts to wholesalers and retailers in order to reduce prices to consumers in 2010.

Smokeless tobacco advertising and promotion had reached an all-time high of $547.9 million in 2008 as tobacco companies look for cigarette alternatives for sales growth as tax hikes, smoking bans, health concerns and social stigma make the cigarette business tougher.

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