Changes in Sales of E-Cigarettes, Cigarettes, and Nicotine Replacement Therapy Products Before, During, and After the EVALI Outbreak

Prev Chronic Dis. 2022 Dec 15;19:E86. doi: 10.5888/pcd19.220087.


Introduction: In 2019, an outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) occurred in the US. We used Nielsen retail sales data to assess trends in sales of e-cigarettes, cigarettes, and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products before, during, and after the EVALI outbreak.

Methods: Monthly unit sales of e-cigarettes, cigarettes, and NRT products overall and by product type were assessed during January 2019 through June 2020 by using an interrupted time series model. Two time points were specified at the period ending July 13, 2019, and the period ending February 22, 2020, to partition before, during, and after the outbreak period. Sales trends by aggregated state-level EVALI case prevalence (low, medium, and high) were assessed to investigate interstate variations in changes of sales coinciding with the EVALI outbreak.

Results: Monthly e-cigarette sales increased 3.5% (P < .001) before the outbreak and decreased 3.1% (P < .001) during the outbreak, with no significant changes after the outbreak. Monthly cigarette sales increased 1.6% (P < .001) before the outbreak, decreased 1.8% (P < .001) during the outbreak, and increased 2.7% (P < .001) after the outbreak. NRT sales did not change significantly before or during the outbreak but decreased (2.8%, P = .01) after the outbreak. Sales trends by state-level EVALI case prevalence were similar to national-level sales trends.

Conclusion: Cigarette and e-cigarette sales decreased during the EVALI outbreak, but no changes in overall NRT sales were observed until after the outbreak. Continued monitoring of tobacco sales data can provide insight into potential changes in use patterns and inform tobacco prevention and control efforts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Lung Injury* / epidemiology
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Tobacco Products*
  • Tobacco Use Cessation Devices