The Economic Perspective: “The Continuing Importance of Tobacco”

I’m Mary Walden with economist MW welcoming you to the economic perspective.  Today’s program looks at the continuing importance of tobacco in North Carolina.  Mike, the economic importance of tobacco has come into focus recently with a national proposal to raise the age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 from 18.  Most experts think such a change would decrease the use of tobacco products.  Since tobacco and tobacco products are still produced in North Carolina, would raising the purchase age be a severe hit to the state economy?

Mike:  Summary Answer

  1. Tobacco is still an important part of the state economy
  2. Combining the leaf growing and the manufacturing of tobacco products – mainly cigarettes – tobacco is a $20 billion industry with 10,000 workers
  3. Revenue value is larger than for computers and electronic equipment
  4. If the sector downsizes, fortunately the state economy – as well as farming – has diversified substantially in recent decades
  5. That said, a significant downsizing of tobacco in our state would be felt
  6. I’m MW

Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for the Economic Perspective, an NC State Extension program from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics