The pandemic and associated lockdowns did not have a material impact on tobacco consumption in China. Both retail volume and current value sales of cigarettes continued to witness stable growth, driven by stable consumer demand, and product innovation, such as the addition of burst beads to slim cigarettes.
In 2022, retail volumes of cigarettes showed slow, stable growth in China, largely attributed to effective supply-side control by the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration (STMA). By curbing production increases and enhancing tobacco quality, the STMA reduced the national cigarette inventory compared with 2021 and 2020.
The competitive landscape remained stable for cigarettes and cigars in 2022, as at the top level China National Tobacco Corp (CNTC) accounted for nearly the entirety of sales, safeguarded by its monopoly status. Meanwhile, volatility was observed in e-vapour products, with the leading player continuing to gain share amidst the downturn in the category.
The pandemic had a material impact on retail channels in cigarettes in 2022, which was marked with prolonged lockdowns in major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing. Many retailers were either forced to close, or only open for on-demand delivery.
Despite being challenged by waves of respiratory diseases and the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for cigarettes and cigars remains solid in China, and sales are expected to increase slightly over the forecast period, given the combined effect of tobacco’s addictive nature, and relatively loose anti-smoking rules. However, the retail growth rates of cigarettes and cigars are set to slow going forward, affected by the slowdown in economic growth and rising cigarette prices, due to the STMA’s tightening supply of low-end and cheap cigarettes in tier-3 and below.
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Passport Tobacco covers the seven major tobacco categories: Cigarettes, Cigars & Cigarillos, Smoking tobacco (made up of Pipe tobacco and RYO tobacco), Smokeless Tobacco (snuff and chewing tobacco), E-Vapour Products (closed and open); Heated Tobacco; and Tobacco Free Oral Nicotine. Smoking paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers, lighters or matches, etc., are not included, nor are nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, which are part of Euromonitor's Passport Consumer Healthcare database.See All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Tobacco research and analysis database.
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