According to the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), the number of cigarettes sold in the U.S. in 2005 (378 billion) represented the lowest figure since 1951 and was attributed to the enforcement of various marketing restrictions imposed on the tobacco industry.
The overall drop in sales of 4.2% between 2004 and 2005 was the most in one year since 1999 and continued an 8-year decline that began in 1998 following the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) that settled state lawsuits to recover the costs of treating illnesses relating to smoking.
The MSA also began a steady increase in the price of cigarettes and severely curbed industry marketing practices. In some place in the U.S., cigarettes now cost as much as $80 or more per carton. Sales have plummeted more than 21% since the MSA according to the NAAG.
Vermont Attorney General, Bill Sorrell was quoted as saying: “It is not a coincidence that cigarette sales are down and fewer people are smoking. The Master Settlement Agreement was designed to protect the public and reduce cigarette consumption — and it does just that.”
The MSA was signed by several major tobacco companies including: Philip Morris, a unit of Altria Group Inc.; R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc.; British American Tobacco Plc’s Brown & Williamson unit; and Lorillard.