Looking for more proof that America's overall masculinity level is now somewhere down around Switzerland's panty line, these days? Fewer than one in five Americans now are smokers. Including girls, even. How can we fix this? One tobacco company has an idea: "cigarettes." The cigars of a new generation!

With smoking being increasingly demonized in environments in which it used to be considered "cool," Big Evil Tobacco Company Lorillard needs a hot new product that will give smoking's popularity a shot in the arm, of cancer (and money). I guess the popularity of snus has not exploded as quickly as forecast? Haha. Lorillard is not messing with pansy mouth tobacco. Lorillard is successfully bringing back cigarettes by just being obstinate and continuing to sell more and more and more cigarettes, forever. Can this wacky strategy succeed?

But Lorillard, maker of the Newport brand, is sticking to a strategy of selling only cigarettes, and so far it's paying off: Cigarette shipments at the No. 3 U.S. tobacco company are up for the second year in a row, and revenue rose 9.1% to $4.85 billion in the 2011 nine months. Volume, meanwhile, rose 7.4% in the period, while it sank roughly 5% at both Altria and Reynolds. Lorillard's overall share of the U.S. cigarette market is up to 14% from 11% in 2008.

So all those nonbelieving tobacco companies that ran off and started selling lip-pouch tobacco at the first sign of trouble are suffering, while Lorillard, which manned up and bravely stood by its Newports through the hard times, is now succeeding. There's a lesson there, America. "Lorillard has benefited because its smokers are younger on average... 45% of smokers 12 to 17 years old used menthol brands."

When times get tough, take advantage of kids. They're easy.


[WSJ. Photo: Geoffrey Gallaway/ Flickr]