Trump Base May Nix Low Nicotine

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

Trump supporters

WASHINGTON -- If tobacco retailers are at all concerned about new talk from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about lowering the nicotine levels of cigarettes, at least one group of analysts says not to worry.

According to analysts with Cowen Washington Research Group, New York, most of President Trump's supporters smoke. Of 25 states with the highest smoking rates, 23 voted for Trump in the 2016 election.

“We can think of few issues that would endanger that solid base foundation [more] than an aggressive—and unexpected—top-down directive from Washington on cigarettes,” said Chris Krueger, macro policy analyst for Cowen.

The data led the group to say in a recent newsletter, “We believe it is unlikely that the FDA moves quickly to shift the market to very low-nicotine cigarettes. The agency tends to move at a slow pace, but more importantly, we don’t think the administration has the appetite to take on such political risk.”

Statistically, Trump voters overindex to cigarette smoking, said Vivien Azer, beverages, tobacco and cannabis analyst for Cowen. Here’s how those numbers break down ...

Smoking states

Smoking man

Trump won 100% of the top 10 smoking states, while Clinton won 80% of the bottom 10, Cowen analysts report, with the average smoking incidence in Trump states on a population-weighted basis being 450 basis points higher than in states where he lost.

New York

New York City

In New York, Trump counties had a smoking incidence 220 basis points higher than Clinton counties.


Donald Trump Hilary Clinton

In Ohio, Trump counties had a smoking incidence 380 basis points higher than Clinton counties.



In California, Trump counties had a smoking incidence 520 basis points higher than Clinton counties.