Top 10 Biggest Tobacco Companies in the World in 2017

Smoking is one of the world’s favorite pass time activity, whether they’re at work, at home, or away from all the stress of work, so we were curious to find out just which were the biggest tobacco companies in the world in 2017.

Smoking isn’t exactly the best practice humans could have picked. On top of many health issues that smoking can cause, including an increased risk of getting cancer, there are other esthetical issues to accompany this habit, like yellow teeth, stained skin, and the overall bad smell that seems to cling to clothes.

The history of tobacco goes back hundreds of years, although it became a lot more popular after European settlers started colonizing the Americas. At one point in time, tobacco was actually used as a currency between the native Americans and the colonists.

Nowadays, it’s a multi-billion business for numerous companies from all corners of the world. Considering there are an estimated 1 billion smokers, that’s not exactly a surprise, especially since breaking the habit is always difficult and takes a lot of dedication to achieve.

The largest tobacco companies in the US are expected to rack in sales of nearly $60 billion in total in 2017. These top tobacco companies in the US, such as Philip Morris or Altria, have been around for many decades and have built an empire in this time, controlling dozens of cigarette brands.

Of course, it’s not just the US that’s a big player in this market, and there are plenty of top tobacco companies in India, too, as well as other places around the world. China National Tobacco Co., for instance, took over 44% of the global tobacco sales in 2016, making it the top such company in the world.

If you’re interested, you can also read up on the 10 good cheapest cigarette brands in 2017. 

In order to create our list today, we checked out Forbes’ listing of tobacco companies. We handed out points for both the company’s annual sales, as well as their valuation on the stock market, where available. That being said, here are the top 10 biggest tobacco companies in the world in 2017.

10. KT&G

Score: 3

Our list of biggest tobacco companies in the world in 2017 starts with KT&G. The leading tobacco company in South Korea, KT&G, which stands for Korea Tomorrow & Global Corporation, has annual sales in the billions of dollars. KT&G’s sales volumes represent more than half of the local market.

The Tobacco Atlas estimates that there are nearly 10 million adults using tobacco every day, and nearly 100,000 children in South Korea. Furthermore, over 43,000 people die each year from diseases caused by tobacco.

The KT&G racked up sales worth $3.9 billion last year, while the company’s market value sits comfortably at over $11.2 billion. The company produces numerous cigarette brands, such as The One, Indigo, This, Zest, Esse, and Lo Crux, to name a few. Carnival, for instance, sells primarily in the United States, while Esse is popular in Eastern Europe.

defotoberg /

defotoberg /

9. Gudang Garam

Score: 3

Founded back in 1958, Gudang Garam is one of Indonesia’s tobacco manufacturers. The company sells multiple cigarette brands, such as GG Mild, Djaja, Surya, and the self-named, Gudang Garam.

The company’s country of origin has over 2.6 million smokers that are children, and over 53.7 million adult smokers, data from the Tobacco Atlas shows. Furthermore, over 217,000 people die each year from tobacco-related diseases.

The company managed to bring in sales of over $5.7 billion, while its market cap closes in on the $10 billion threshold.



8. ITC Limited

Score: 7

Created in 1910 as the Imperial Tobacco Company of India, ITC Limited is an Indian company with the headquarters in Kolkata. Nowadays, they don’t just make cigarettes, but they also branched out in other directions, food, hotels and IT.

Among the many brands created by ITC there’s Wills Navy Cut, Gold Flake Kings, Insignia, Classic, Silk Cut, Bristol, and more, including the well known Lucky Strike.

The company’s native country has over 120 million adult smokers and over 2.5 million smoking children. Unfortunately, Tobacco Atlas says nearly 1 million people die each year from tobacco-caused illness.

ITC racked up sales of some $6 billion, while the company’s market cap was calculated at over $51.6 billion.

cigarette, smoking, skull, death, bad habit


7. Reynolds American

Score: 10

Reynolds American is a company based in the United States, that is actually a subsidiary of British American Tobacco PLC (ADR) (NYSE:BTI). They are responsible for many popular brands, including Camel, Newport, Pall Mall, and Kent, to name a few.

Reynolds American was actually formed in 2004 by combining R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and the US business of BAT, called Brown and Williamson.

Reynolds American sold cigarettes worth of $12.5 billion last year, and its market value currently sits at over $90.6 billion.



6. Japan Tabacco

Score: 11

Up next on our list of biggest tobacco companies in the world in 2017, we have Japan Tobacco, a company founded in 1949 and based in Tokyo. Japan Tobacco controls over 65% of the local cigarette market with brands such as Cabin, Hope, Sakura, Seven Stars, and more.

Japan has over 25 million adult smoker, and some 33,000 underage smokers, data from the Tobacco Atlas shows.

Forbes notes they sold cigarettes worth of $19.7 billion, while the company’s market cap was calculated at $66.4 billion.



5. Imperial Brands

Score: 12

Formerly known as the Imperial Tobacco Group, this British multinational was founded in 1901. The company sells numerous brands, including Davidoff, Embassy, Gauloises, Route 66, Royale, Foruna, and more.

Data shows, the Imperial Brands managed to pile up the sales up to $39.2 billion, while the company’s market value stands at $46.5 billion.



4. Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO)

Score: 13

Next up on our list of the biggest tobacco companies in the world in 2017, we have Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO), which is an American corporation created in 1985 as the Philip Morris Companies. Since then, it has changed its name and is now the parent company of Philip Morris USA, John Middleton Inc, and a few others, with Philip Morris International branching out on its own in 2008.

Some of the brands Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO) sells are Marlboro, Virginia Slims, and Chesterfield, to name a few.

Altria’s yearly sales hit $19.3 billion, while the company’s market value climbed up to $138.8 billion.



3. British American Tobacco PLC (ADR) (NYSE:BTI)

Score: 14

Up on the third spot we have British American Tobacco, a company that was founded back in 1902. Nowadays, it is the leading company in its market in over 50 countries, although its products sell in over 180 nations. Among the brands that belong to BAT we can count Dunhill, Lucky Strike, Kent, and Pall Mall, as well as Rothmans.

The UK, where the company is based, has over 7.2 million smokers, shows data from the Public Health England, with the number dwindling rapidly over the past few years. Current policies within the country prohibit smoking in healthcare facilities, universities, government facilities, indoor offices, restaurants, pubs and bars, and public transport, in an effort to limit second-hand smoking issues.

The British American Tobacco has managed to rank up sales of over 19.9 billion, and the company’s market value reaches #123.8 billion.



2. Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM)

Score: 17

On the second spot among the biggest tobacco companies in the world in 2017 is American tobacco giant Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM), a company founded in 1900. Back in 2008, the company separated from Altria Group to have more freedom outside the United States and it listed on the stock market on its own.

Among the brands it sells there’s Marlboro, L&M, Virginia Slims, and countless other local brands.

In the United States, where Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM) is headquartered, there are over 36.5 million smokers, shows data from the CDC. Unfortunately, about 16 million people have a smoking-related disease.

The company racked up sales of $26.7 billion, while the market value stands at $176.2 billion.

Feel Photo Art/

Feel Photo Art/

1. China National Tobacco Co

Score: 18

At the top of this food chain we have one Chinese giant – the China National Tobacco Company. Born in 1982 and headquartered in Beijing, the benemot is owned by the Chinese state. Unlike the other companies on our list, this one lacks a market valuation because it is not listed on the stock market; and yet, it reached the top position due to the sheer size of its sales.

Truthfully, there is little recent information about just how much money CNTC makes from selling cigarettes, but there’s info that it managed to get its claws on 44% of the world’s tobacco-directed money. Given how the 2016 global tobacco market reached $683.4 billion, this puts CNTC’s sales at just over $300 billion.

The CNTC runs a monopoly in China, so approximately 98% of the local smokers buy the company’s 900 brands, such as Hongstashan, which is the most popular, or Chunghwa.

There are about 350 million smokers in China, so there’s little surprise that they manage to pull so much money.

Pixabay/Public Domain

Pixabay/Public Domain

That being said, these have been the top 10 biggest tobacco companies in the world in 2017, and yet another instance where China can show us they go big or go home.