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Traditional, electronic cigarette volumes remain on decline in October

Traditional, electronic cigarette volumes remain on decline in October

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Traditional electronic cigarette sales continued to decline during October amid the current public-health controversy, according to the latest Nielsen report released Tuesday.

Sales volumes of mainstream e-cigarette products, led by Juul, were up 7.9% for the four weeks ending Nov. 2, compared with the same period a year ago. However, e-cigarette sales volume has decreased steadily since Nielsen’s Aug. 10 report when they were up 60.2% year over year. The Sept. 7 report had a 49.2% hike, while the Oct. 2 report had an 18.4% increase.

Juul’s volume for the four weeks fell from a 50.2% increase for the Aug. 10 report to a 3.6% decline for the Nov. 2 report. Nielsen primarily measures convenience-store data.

Meanwhile, the continuing decline in traditional cigarette-industry sales was reflected in the Nov. 2 report. The decline was 6.8% compared with a 7.3% drop for the Sept. 7 report.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said its investigation into an outbreak of severe vaping-related illnesses is focused primarily on open-pod e-cigarettes in which liquids containing the marijuana compound THC are being vaped.

The CDC’s latest update on vaping-related illnesses, released Nov. 7, determined there have been at least 2,051 cases nationwide and at least 40 related deaths.

On Friday, the CDC said it has found a “very strong culprit” in the vaping illnesses in vitamin E acetate.

Meanwhile, there have been few incidents reported involving the closed-pod e-cigarettes sold by Juul Labs Inc., R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co.’s Vuse, Fontem Ventures’ blu eCigs and NJoy.

The decline in e-cigarette consumption, coupled with a slowing decrease in traditional cigarette sales, “places public health very much in a no-win situation,” said David Sweanor, an adjunct law professor at the University of Ottawa and the author of several e-cigarette and health studies.

“To the extent misinformation and restricted market access to vaping products reduced the shift from cigarettes to non-combustibles, health is harmed.

“To the extent many consumers simply ignored the impassioned attacks from historically credible sources of health information, and defied efforts by regulators to restrict product access, we see the faith in government bodies and experts has been further eroded, with grave implications for the future of public health efforts,” Sweanor said.

Anti-tobacco advocates, meanwhile, are hoping the potential ending of flavored e-cigarettes by the Food and Drug Administration will lead more smokers to try traditional nicotine replacement therapy products rather than resume smoking traditional cigarettes.

Herzog has said cigarette volumes could be down as much as 6% this year.

British American Tobacco Plc, parent company of Reynolds American Inc., and Altria Group Inc., parent company of Philip Morris USA, has said the decline could be between 4% and 5%, while Imperial Brands Plc has said it could be between 4.5% and 5%.

Nielsen reported Altria’s volumes were down 7.6% for the Nov. 2 report compared with a year ago, while Reynolds was down 7.2% and ITG down 8.2%.

Philip Morris’ market share was at 52.7%, of which 46.2% is the top-selling Marlboro.

Reynolds was at 31.9%, led by 11.6% from Newport, 8.4% Camel, 7.5% Pall Mall and 2.8% Natural American Spirit.

ITG was at 7.3%, including 2.1% from Winston and 1.7% from Kool and 1.6% from Maverick. ITG has said its market share is closer to 10%.

With e-cigarettes, Juul holds a 64.7% market share, up slightly from 64% from the previous survey, as it was affected by eliminating some flavorings earlier this year.

By comparison, the market share is 14.5% for No. 2 NJoy, down from 16.4% in the Oct. 2 report. Vuse of R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. is third at 13.5%, up from 12.1% in the Oct. 2 report.

Similar flavored e-cigs have not been pulled from retail by Reynolds Vapor.

Both NJoy and Vuse have been offering promotional discounts at retail in recent weeks.

Herzog has projected $9 billion in e-cigarette sales this year, up from $7 billion in 2018.

rcraver@wsjournal.com

336-727-7376

@rcraverWSJ

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