5 Top Tobacco Giant Companies in 2023

No matter where you are, the cigarette in your hand likely comes from one of the biggest tobacco companies like BAT, JTI, Imperial, or PMI.

As per the latest data from Euromonitor International, the top 5 tobacco companies in the world are:

  1. Philip Morris International Inc. & Altria Group, Inc.
  2. British American Tobacco p.l.c.
  3. Japan Tobacco Inc.
  4. Imperial Brands PLC
  5. Korea Tobacco and Ginseng Corporation.

While you may be familiar with Marlboro, there are plenty of other brother brands that focus on different markets and customers.

Let’s take a closer look at their parent company behind.

(click the arrows at below right to change sliders)

5 Top Tobacco Giant Companies




KT&G (Korea Tobacco and Ginseng Corporation) is the largest tobacco manufacturer in South Korea and the fifth-largest tobacco giant in the world. KT&G has always been expanding the markets outside South Korea. It plans to become the fourth-largest tobacco company in the world by 2025.

History of KT&G

KT&G, formerly known as Korea Ginseng Corporation, was established in 1883 and changed its name to KT&G in 1921.

Tobacco Business of KT&G

KT&G Group has five major subsidiaries, involved in ginseng/Chinese medicine, medicine, health care, hotels, and other fields. KT&G is best known for its tobacco business, including cigarettes, and new types of tobacco, and is the only reconstituted tobacco leaf manufacturer in South Korea.

The internationally renowned ESSE series ultra-slim (100mm) cigarettes produced by KT&G use the world’s top-quality tobacco leaves and adopt advanced production and processing technology to minimize the damage caused by cigarettes to the human body. On the basis of retaining the original aroma of tobacco leaves, KT&G has developed and produced 27 different specifications of ESSE series cigarettes for consumers of different age groups.

In addition to the production of ultra-slim cigarettes, KT&G’s regular cigarettes (84mm) are also in full bloom. Among them, well-known brands include BOHEM Mjito. It has the same name as the famous cocktail “Mojito” because it tastes the same as the Mojito cocktail.

In recent years, with the decline of traditional tobacco sales, various tobacco giants have transformed into new types of tobacco. Although KT&G launched its new e-cigarette Lil in a relatively short period, it has attracted high favor from consumers due to its good quality and design and lightweight advantages. The reason why it is named Lil is taken from the meaning of “a little is a lot”, which means less smell and less second-hand smoke so that smokers can get greater satisfaction. Among all brands such as iQOS, Ploom, and glo, Lil has the most abundant accessories to meet the different needs of consumers. Especially the biggest feature of the latest Lil Solid 2.0 is the upgraded thermal system and the increase in the available capacity after a single charge. The newly adopted “surround heating method” is continuous heating through induction heating technology, which makes the final taste even. In addition, the charging experience has been improved, and the battery efficiency has been upgraded. After a full charge, it can use up to 30 pods.

Business performance of KT&G

Total revenue in 2022 reached a record high of 5.85 trillion won (about 4.65 billion U.S. dollars), a 12% increase from the previous year, mainly driven by its hot-selling HNB products. Meanwhile, the company’s net profit was 1 trillion won ($1.125 billion), up 3 percent year-on-year.

In January 2023, KT&G signed a 15-year agreement to supply PMI with smoke-free products in overseas markets (excluding Korea). In exchange for the marketing, distribution, and sales rights of KT&G e-cigarettes overseas, PMI guarantees the minimum number of cigarettes distributed to ensure KT&G’s profitability.

Imperial Brands

Imperial Brands

Imperial Brands

Founded in 1901, Imperial Tobacco is a British multinational tobacco company headquartered in Bristol, England. The company mainly produces and sells tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and electronic cigarettes. Imperial Brands produces more than 320 billion cigarettes a year, has 51 factories around the world, and sells its products in more than 160 countries. Its brands include Davidoff, West, Gauloises Blondes, Montecristo, Golden Virginia (the world’s largest-selling cigarette), Drum (the world’s second-largest-selling fine-cut tobacco), and Rizla (the world’s best-selling cigarette paper).

(Here is a table for updating most cigarette brands’ backgrounds)

History of Imperial Brands

Imperial Brands, formerly known as Imperial Tobacco Group, traces its roots back to 1901 when the Imperial Tobacco Company of Great Britain and Ireland was formed. The company was established by the merger of thirteen British tobacco companies, including W.D. & H.O. Wills and John Player & Sons.

Throughout the 20th century, Imperial Tobacco Group expanded its operations both in the UK and internationally. It acquired several tobacco companies, enabling it to establish a strong presence in various global markets. The company’s growth was fueled by successful brands like Lambert & Butler, Embassy, John Player Special, and Davidoff.

In 2016, Imperial Tobacco Group rebranded itself as Imperial Brands to reflect its broader business focus beyond tobacco.

Tobacco Business of Imperial Brands

  1. Cigarettes: Imperial Brands produces and sells a diverse range of cigarette brands across different market segments. These include popular brands such as Winston, Davidoff, Gauloises, West, JPS, and Fine. The company focuses on developing and marketing products that cater to the preferences of adult smokers worldwide.
  2. Fine-Cut Tobacco: Imperial Brands is also involved in the production and distribution of fine-cut tobacco for roll-your-own (RYO) and make-your-own (MYO) cigarettes. It offers various brands, including Golden Virginia, Drum, and Route 66, to meet the demand for this category of tobacco products.
  3. Cigars: Imperial Brands has a presence in the premium cigar market through brands like Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, and VegaFina. These cigars cater to discerning cigar enthusiasts and are produced using high-quality tobacco and craftsmanship.
  4. Smokeless Products: Recognizing changing consumer preferences and evolving regulatory environments, Imperial Brands has been exploring smokeless tobacco alternatives. It has introduced innovative products such as heated tobacco devices, e-cigarettes, and oral nicotine products. These reduced-risk products aim to provide alternatives for adult consumers seeking potentially less harmful options.

Business performance of Imperial Brands

Imperial Brands announced that its net income in the first half of the 2023 fiscal year (October 1, 2022, to September 30, 2023) was 15.41 billion pounds, a year-on-year decrease of 0.3%; operating profit was 1.53 billion pounds, an increase of 27.7% year-on-year.

In terms of the tobacco business, Imperial Brands achieved further growth in overall market share in the five major markets while achieving its goal of stabilizing product prices. In the field of new tobacco products, Imperial brand e-cigarettes, heated cigarettes, and snus have launched new products.

Japan Tobacco

Japan Tobacco

Japan Tobacco

Japan Tobacco Inc. (JT for short) was formally established on April 1, 1985, with a registered capital of 100 billion yen. It is now the third-largest multinational tobacco company in the world. It has 26 cigarette factories around the world and sells cigarettes annually. More than 8.6 million boxes, and 32,600 employees worldwide in 2005.

History of Japan Tobacco

Japan Tobacco traces its origins back to 1898 when it was founded as the government-owned Monopoly Bureau of the Ministry of Finance. In 1985 it was restructured and renamed Japan Tobacco and Salt Public Corporation. Later, in 1989, it became a stock company, Japan Tobacco Inc., through privatization.

In 1999, it acquired the international tobacco business of RJR Nabisco, which included renowned brands such as Winston, Camel, and Salem. This acquisition significantly expanded its footprint in the international tobacco market.

In 2007, it acquired the UK-based Gallaher Group, adding popular brands like Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut to its portfolio. This acquisition strengthened its position in the European market.

Tobacco Business of Japan Tobacco

  1. Cigarettes: JTI manufactures and sells a diverse portfolio of cigarette brands worldwide. Some of its well-known global cigarette brands include Winston, Camel, Mevius (previously known as Mild Seven), and LD.
  2. Roll-Your-Own (RYO) Tobacco: JTI is involved in the production and distribution of fine-cut tobacco for roll-your-own and make-your-own cigarettes. These brands may vary by market and include names such as Amber Leaf, Natural American Spirit, and Old Holborn.
  3. Cigars and Pipe Tobacco: JTI has a presence in the premium cigar market, offering a range of cigar brands.
  4. Smokeless Products: such as tobacco heating devices (THDs) and tobacco-free nicotine pouches. These products aim to provide adult consumers with potentially reduced-risk alternatives to traditional cigarettes.

Business performance of Japan Tobacco

In 2022, Japan Tobacco’s tax-free sales revenue will be 2.66 trillion yen (about 20.22 billion U.S. dollars), a year-on-year increase of 14.3%. Tobacco business tax-exclusive sales revenue was 2.32 trillion yen (approximately US$17.632 billion), a year-on-year increase of 15.6%, of which RRP tax-exclusive sales revenue was 75.4 billion yen (approximately US$570 million), a year-on-year increase of 4.4%. Adjusted operating profit was 727.8 billion yen (about 5.53 billion U.S. dollars), a year-on-year increase of 19.2%.

British American Tobacco

British American Tobacco

British American Tobacco

Founded in 1902, British American Tobacco (BAT) is the second-largest listed tobacco company in the world. It is headquartered in London, England, and employs more than 90,000 people worldwide.

BAT’s business covers more than 180 markets around the world, with more than 80 factories in 64 countries and a leading position in more than 50 markets. The global market share is above 15%.

BAT’s four best-selling cigarette brands include its local brand Dunhill, and US brands Lucky Strike, Kent, and Pall Mall. Other brands launched by the company include Benson & Hedges and Rothmans.

History of British American Tobacco

British American Tobacco traces its roots back to 1902 when the British Imperial Tobacco Company and the American Tobacco Company decided to form a joint venture. This collaboration resulted in the creation of the British American Tobacco Company Limited, with operations in the United Kingdom and the United States.

In the 20th century, BAT entered new markets, introduced innovative products, and developed a diverse range of cigarette brands to cater to different consumer preferences. Some of its well-known cigarette brands include Lucky Strike, Dunhill, Pall Mall, Kent, and Rothmans.

Tobacco Business of British American Tobacco

  1. Cigarettes: BAT produces and markets a wide range of cigarette brands across different market segments. It offers both global flagship brands and local brands tailored to specific markets. Some of its well-known global cigarette brands include Dunhill, Lucky Strike, Kent, Pall Mall, Rothmans, and Newport (in the U.S. market). BAT focuses on delivering high-quality products that cater to the preferences of adult smokers worldwide.
  2. Fine-Cut Tobacco: BAT is also involved in the production and distribution of fine-cut tobacco for roll-your-own (RYO) and make-your-own (MYO) cigarettes. It offers various brands of RYO tobacco to meet the demand for this category of tobacco products. These brands may vary by market and include names like Drum, Bali Shag, and Samson.
  3. Smokeless Products: BAT has been exploring smokeless tobacco alternatives in response to changing consumer preferences and regulatory developments. It has introduced various smokeless products, including tobacco heating devices (THDs) such as glo, as well as tobacco-free nicotine products like Velo nicotine pouches.

Business performance of British American Tobacco

In 2022, British American Tobacco’s cigarette sales declined at an accelerated rate, and the highlights of its performance mainly focused on the field of new tobacco products.

The company’s e-cigarette brand Vuse has a sales share of 35.9% in the main e-cigarette market (the main e-cigarette market defined by British American Tobacco refers to the top five e-cigarette markets in terms of sales revenue, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Canada), With a year-on-year increase of 2.5 percentage points, it has become the world’s highest-selling e-cigarette brand.

In 2022, the number of consumers of British American Tobacco’s non-burn tobacco products increased by 4.2 million to 22.5 million, accounting for 14.8% of sales revenue, continuing its strategic transformation towards building A Better Tomorrow.

Philip Morris International & Altria Group

Philip Morris International

Philip Morris International

Altria Group

Altria Group

Background and History

Founded in 1847, Philip Morris International is a multinational cigarette and tobacco manufacturing company headquartered in New York, USA. It has long been one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, with products sold in more than 180 countries around the world.

Philip Morris International owns 60 multibillion-dollar brands, of which the most recognized and best-selling cigarette brand is Marlboro.

In 2008, the company underwent a corporate restructuring. The international operations were spun off as a separate entity called Philip Morris International (PMI), while the U.S. operations remained under the name Altria Group (formerly known as Philip Morris Companies Inc.).

Since the spin-off, PMI and Altria have operated as two separate, independent companies, each with its own management, shareholders, and stock exchange listings. PMI primarily focuses on its international markets outside the United States, while Altria’s primary market is the United States.

Additionally, PMI and Altria have collaborated in the development and commercialization of reduced-risk products. They have jointly worked on the development of innovative products like heated tobacco devices, with Altria holding the rights to market and distribute PMI’s heated tobacco products in the United States under the IQOS brand.

Please note the information provided here is not 100% accurate due to the time change. You should verify it through official sources or the latest companies’ announcements.  

Business performance

In 2022, the performance of Altria Group’s cigarette, cigar, and traditional snus products will be bleak, which will drag down the decline in operating performance. The only bright spot is the new snus.

Meanwhile, Philip Morris International has outstanding operating performance and has become the largest multinational tobacco company in the world in terms of cigarette sales. The total sales volume of cigarettes and heated cigarettes was 14.622 million boxes, a year-on-year increase of 1.6%. In 2022, Philip Morris International’s tax-free sales revenue will be US$31.76 billion, a year-on-year increase of 1.1%.

Heated cigarettes continue to maintain a high growth trend, and sales will exceed 2 million boxes in 2022. As of the end of 2022, the number of IQOS global users will reach 24.9 million, of which about 17.8 million will be fully converted into IQOS consumers (data includes Russia and Ukraine).

Above is the introduction of the top tobacco giants every smoker should know. The data may be inaccurate, please contact us if you have any suggestions.

More Articles

Thin Printing Paper