CHART OF THE DAY: How Cigarettes Became Bigger Than Spitting Tobacco 100 Years Ago

These days, you can’t talk about tobacco without talking about the rise of e-cigarettes.

“By year-end 2013, the e-cigarette category is expected to have doubled to over $US1B from $US500MM in 2012, according to various industry sources,” noted RBC Capital analyst Nik Modi.

Still, e-cigarettes represent a very tiny fraction of the tobacco business. Tobacco giant Lorillard recently said that e-cigarettes may have taken 1% of the U.S. cigarette volume.

However, there was once a time when the cigarette wasn’t the dominant product in the tobacco business.

“We point out that it took 45 years for tobacco consumers to transition from smokeless to cigarettes during the late 1800s and early 1900s,” added Modi. “The cigarette’s popularity among tobacco consumers as we know it today was helped by two key catalysts: 1) spitting tobacco was declared unsanitary and disease spreading, leading to spittoons being removed from public places in 1915; and 2) during the Second World War, soldiers were given cigarettes as part of their rations.”

The removal of spittoons a hundred years ago isn’t unlike the bans on smoking we see today.

Who knows where we’ll be 45 years from now?

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