Big Tobacco Continues ‘Business As Usual’ Despite Covid-19 Pandemic

This Policy Brief was written by Frank Chaloupka, Jeff Drope, Erika Siu, and Hye Myung Lee. The policy brief examines the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on four multinational tobacco companies: Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI), Japan Tobacco Inc. (JTI), Imperial Brands PLC, and British American Tobacco PLC (BAT). The authors find that net income trends show marked growth in three of the four companies. Further, none of the companies experienced a decline in gross profits, and total revenues, similarly, have not been significantly impacted. At the same time, cigarette prices of major brands rose worldwide. The findings show that governments do not need to protect tobacco companies by lowering or postponing tax payments. Instead, the researchers recommend that policy makers use cigarette taxes as a part of pandemic recovery efforts in order to raise revenue and protect public health.