Newports,United States fastest growing brand cigarettes

For the past many years, much of the tobacco control world’s notice has been focused on Marlboro Cigarettes and Camel and their advertising and promotional campaigns featuring the Marlboro Man and Joe Camel. While this was happening, Newport Cigarettes sales have been rising. Newport, for many years the No. 1 menthol cigarette in the United States, is now second in status to long-time leader, Marlboro.

According to an April 2000 article, “For the second year in a row, Greensboro’s Lorillard Tobacco Co. was the only major cigarette maker to ship more product nationwide than it did the year before.” 1999, Newport accounted for more than three-quarters of Lorillard’s sales, and claimed a 7.5 percent share of the about $50 billion cigarette market, up from 6.9 percent in 1998, according to the Maxwell Report.

A year earlier, the same publication called Newport the “fastest growing cigarette in the country” and quoted a tobacco analyst as saying, “Pound for pound, Newport is the strongest brand in the market.” Recent reports show that Newport is responsible for 80 percent of Lorillard’s sales of $4.2 billion in revenue and net income of $629 million in 2000.

It has been known for more than a decade that African Americans are the “franchise” consumers of Newport, and other mentholated cigarette brands. But the dramatic success of Newport raises questions about the rest of its audience. The recent 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) answers some – but not all – of those questions.

The last time that the federal government published brand preference data comparing adults and adolescents was data for 1993. Now new data has become available from the 1999 NHSDA. Unfortunately, the data from the 1993 and 1999 two surveys are not comparable because the 1993 youth data was based on Teenage Attitudes and Practices Survey (TAPS) rather than the household survey. Nevertheless, it is interesting to look at how the Newport brand fared in both surveys.

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In 1993, among adolescent smokers, Marlboro was No. 1 (60.0 percent), followed by Camel at No. 2 (13.3 percent) and Newport at No. 3 (12.7 percent). In 1999, among youth ages 12-17 who had smoked in the last 30 days, the preferred brands were Marlboro still at No. 1 (54.5 percent), Newport now at No. 2 (21.6 percent) and Camel at No. 3 (9.8 percent).

While African Americans clearly prefer Newport, the overall rise in Newport’s popularity among adolescents cannot be explained by a change in Black youth smoking rates over this period. A Centers for Disease Control & Prevention fact sheet notes that “in 1991, White students (30.9 percent) were 2.5 times more likely than Black students (12.6 percent) to report current smoking” and that similar trends were found in 1999.

Although Black adolescent male smoking rates have fluctuated, the overall trend has been a leveling or slight decline. Black adolescent female current smoking rates have remained relatively low for most of the decade with respect to other race/gender groups.

More than one-fifth of beginning smokers are now smoking Newport cigarettes – a rather dramatic rise from just six years ago. Newport has passed Camel cigarettes to become No. 2 on the list of favorite smokes of White and Hispanic youth. According to the 1999 NHSDA, 16.5 percent of White youth smokers preferred Newport in comparison to an 11.2 percent preference for Camel. Among Hispanic youth, the gap was even wider – 18.6 percent for Newport vs. 7.1 percent for Camel.

And the Newport increase isn’t restricted to youth. Lorillard’s flagship menthol brand has even increased its popularity with adults. The CDC’s 1993 estimate was that Newport had just 4.8 percent of the adult market. By 1999, the NHSDA gave Newport 15.6 percent of adult smokers ages 18-25 and 6.5 percent of adult smokers 26 and older – showing growth in all three age groups.