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Fact Sheet Fact Sheet

Tobacco use in Rhode Island 2018

Rhode Island cigarette use among adults and high school students

Cigarette use: Rhode Island*

  • In 2016, 14.4 percent of adults smoked. Nationally, the rate was 17.1 percent.¹
  • In 2017, 6.1 percent of high school students smoked on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 8.8 percent.²

Other tobacco product use: Rhode Island

  • In 2015, 2.5 percent of adults used e-cigarettes and 2.6 percent smoked cigars.³
  • In 2017, 20.1 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes, 5.0 percent used smokeless tobacco and 6.8 percent smoked cigars on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rates were 13.2 percent, 5.5 percent and 8.0 percent, respectively.²
Rhode Island other tobacco product use among adults and high school students

Economics of tobacco use and tobacco control

  • Rhode Island received $195.5 million (estimated) in tobacco settlement payments and taxes in fiscal year 2018.
  • Of this, the state allocated $375,622 in state funds to tobacco prevention in fiscal year 2018, just 2.9 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual spending target.
  • Smoking-caused health care costs: $640 million per year
  • Smoking-caused losses in productivity: $458.9 million per year

Rhode Island tobacco laws

Tobacco taxes

Rhode Island 2018 tobacco taxes
  • Rhode Island is ranked 3rd in the U.S. for its cigarette tax of $4.25 per pack (enacted August 2016), compared to the national average of $1.73. (Connecticut and New York have the highest tax at $4.35 and Missouri has the lowest at 17 cents.)⁶ ⁷ ⁸
  • Cigars, pipe tobacco products and smokeless tobacco other than snuff are taxed at 80 percent of the wholesale cost, but the tax on cigars cannot exceed 50 cents per cigar. Snuff is taxed at $1.00 per ounce.⁶ ⁷

Clean indoor air ordinances

  • Smoking is prohibited in government workplaces, private workplaces, schools, childcare facilities, restaurants, bars (allowed in smoking bars), retail stores and recreational/cultural facilities.⁶ ⁷
  • Smoking restrictions are required in casinos/gaming establishments.⁶ ⁷

Youth access laws

  • The minimum age of sale for tobacco products in Rhode Island is 18.
  • Establishments are required to post signs stating that the sale of tobacco products to minors is prohibited.
  • Minors are prohibited from buying bidis and e-cigarettes.

Local tobacco laws

  • Two cities in Rhode Island, Barrington and Central Falls, have raised the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.
  • Barrington, Central Falls, Johnston, Middletown and Providence have banned the sale of flavored tobacco products, except menthol, mint and wintergreen. Smoking and hookah bars are exempt.
  • Barrington, Central Falls, Johnston, Middletown, Providence and West Warwick prohibit licensed tobacco vendors from selling discounted tobacco products through coupon redemption and multipack offers.

Quitting statistics and benefits

  • The CDC estimates that 53.4 percent of daily adult smokers in Rhode Island quit smoking for one or more days in 2016.¹⁰
  • In 2014, the Affordable Care Act required that Medicaid programs cover all quit medications.**
  • Rhode Island’s state quit line invests $1.00 per smoker, compared to the national average of $2.10.
  • Rhode Island does not have a private insurance mandate provision for quitting tobacco.

Notes and references

Updated June 2018

* 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, 2016.
  2. CDC, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 2017.
  3. CDC, State-Specific Prevalence of Tobacco Product Use Among Adults - United States, 2014-2015, MMWR.
  4. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Broken Promises to Our Children: a State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 19 Years Later FY2018, 2017.
  5. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Toll of Tobacco in the United States, 2018.
  6. American Lung Association, SLATI State Reports, 2017.
  7. American Lung Association, State of Tobacco Control, 2018.
  8. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, State Cigarette Excise Tax Rates & Rankings, 2018.
  9. Tobacco-Free Rhode Island. RI Local Tobacco Control Ordinances & Policies. 2018;
  10. CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System, 2016.