Cigarette smoking in the United States went up for the first time in two decades amid the persistent public health lobby against less harmful alternatives such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, according to an international consumer advocacy group.

“Nothing has been more egregious and harmful in our current age than the public health lobby’s persistent denialism of the harm reduction value of nicotine vaping products and other alternatives to cigarettes,” Consumer Choice Center (CCC) deputy director Yaël Ossowski said in a blog post on the organization’s website.

The 2020 Cigarette Report of the Federal Trade Commission showed that cigarette sales in the United States reached the highest in two decades. The total number of cigarettes sold by major manufacturers rose 0.4 percent in 2020 to 203.7 billion units from 2019. It represented the first increase in cigarette sales in 20 years.

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