Tobacco use in the District of Columbia 2021
Cigarette use: District of Columbia*
Cigarette smoking rates in Washington DC
- In 2020, 11.3% of adults smoked. Nationally, the rate was 15.5%.1
- In 2019, 5.3% of high school students in the District of Columbia smoked cigarettes on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 6.0%.2
Other tobacco product use: District of Columbia
Vaping rates in Washington DC
- In 2017, 2.3% of adults in the District of Columbia used e-cigarettes.3
- In 2020, 1.5% of adults in the District of Columbia used smokeless tobacco.3
- In 2019, 13.0% of high school students in the District of Columbia used electronic vapor products on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 32.7%.2
- In 2019, 5.5% of high school students in the District of Columbia used chewing tobacco, snuff or dip on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 3.8%.2
- In 2019, 6.6% of high school students in the District of Columbia smoked cigars, cigarillos or little cigars on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 5.7%.2
Economics of tobacco use and tobacco control
Washington DC cigarette tax
- D.C. received $69.9 million (estimated) in revenue from tobacco settlement payments and taxes in fiscal year 2021.4
- Of this, the city allocated $1.9 million in city funds to tobacco prevention in fiscal year 2021, 17.8% of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual spending target.4
- Smoking-related health care costs: $391 million per year.4
- Smoking-related losses in productivity: $280.4 million per year.5
District of Columbia tobacco laws
Washington DC smoking laws
- D.C is ranked 1st in the U.S. for its cigarette tax of $4.50 per pack (enacted October 2018), compared to the national average of $1.91. (Missouri has the lowest tax at 17 cents).6-8
- Little Cigars (weighing less than 4lbs/thousand): 22.5 cents per little cigar
- All other tobacco products are taxed at 96% of the manufacturer’s list price.6,7
Baseball stadium laws
- Tobacco use is prohibited at organized sporting events, including professional venues.9
Clean indoor air ordinances
- Smoking is prohibited in all government workplaces, private workplaces, schools, childcare facilities, restaurants, bars (allowed in cigar/tobacco bars and allows for an economic hardship waiver), retail stores and recreational/cultural facilities.7
- E-cigarettes are included in the city’s definition of smoking.10
- Retailers and wholesalers are required to obtain a license to sell tobacco products, except premium cigars.6
- A license is required to sell e-cigarette products.10
Youth access laws
- Effective December 2019, the United States adopted a law raising the federal minimum age of sale of all tobacco products to 21. Some states have not yet raised their state minimum age of sale, however, the federal law takes precedence.
- Establishments are required to post signs stating that sales to underage consumers are prohibited.6,7
- The sale of e-cigarettes is prohibited to underage persons.10
- Underage persons are prohibited from buying and possessing e-cigarettes.10
- Self-service sales of e-cigarettes are prohibited, except in tobacco specialty stores.10
- Vending machine sales of e-cigarettes are restricted to establishments inaccessible to persons under age 21 as well as taverns, nightclubs, and restaurants licensed to serve alcohol.10
- Distribution of free e-cigarettes is prohibited on public streets, sidewalks, parks, playgrounds, buildings, or other public property, or private property open to the public (except tobacco specialty stores, or adult-only conferences or conventions, as long as none are given to underage persons).10
Quitting statistics and benefits
Quitting vaping and smoking in Washington DC
- The CDC estimates 60.8% of daily adult smokers in D.C. quit smoking for one or more days in 2019.3
- In 2014, the Affordable Care Act required that Medicaid programs cover all quit medications.7**
- The D.C. quit line invests $5.17 per smoker, compared to the national average of $2.28.7
- D.C. does not have a private insurance mandate provision for quitting tobacco.7
Notes and references
Updated August 2021
* National and state-level prevalence numbers reflect the most recent data available. This may differ across state fact sheets.
** The seven recommended cessation medications are NRT gum, NRT patch, NRT nasal spray, NRT inhaler, NRT lozenge, Varenicline (Chantix) and Bupropion (Zyban).
Fiore MC, et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update. Clinical Practice Guideline. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service: May 2008.
1. CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2020.
2. CDC, Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System, 2019.
3. CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System, 2021.
4. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Broken Promises to Our Children: a State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 22 Years Later FY2021, 2020.
5. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Toll of Tobacco in the United States.
6. American Lung Association, State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues (SLATI).
7. American Lung Association, State of Tobacco Control, 2021.
8. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. State Cigarette Excise Tax Rates & Rankings. https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/factsheets/0097.pdf. Accessed.
9. Knock Tobacco Out of the Park. https://tobaccofreebaseball.org/. Accessed.
10. Public Health Law Center. U.S. E-Cigarette Regulation: 50-State Review. http://www.publichealthlawcenter.org/resources/us-e-cigarette-regulations-50-state-review. Accessed.