Tobacco use in Rhode Island 2021
Cigarette use: Rhode Island
Cigarette smoking rates in Rhode Island
- In 2020, 13.5% of adults smoked. Nationally, the rate was 15.5%.1
- In 2019, 4.2% of high school students in Rhode Island smoked cigarettes on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 6.0%.2
Other tobacco product use: Rhode Island
Vaping rates in Rhode Island
- In 2018, 5.5% of adults in Rhode Island used e-cigarettes, 3
- In 2020, 0.8% of adults in Rhode Island used smokeless tobacco.3
- In 2019, 30.1% of high school students in Rhode Island used electronic vapor products on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 32.7%.2
- In 2019, 2.5% of high school students in Rhode Island 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, 5.1% of high school students in Rhode Island 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
Rhode Island cigarette tax
- Rhode Island received $188.4 million (estimated) in revenue from tobacco settlement payments and taxes in fiscal year 2021.4
- Of this, the state allocated $395,337 in state funds to tobacco prevention in fiscal year 2021, 3.1% of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual spending target.4
- Smoking-caused health care costs: $640 million per year.4
- Smoking-caused losses in productivity: $458.9 million per year.5
Rhode Island tobacco laws
Rhode Island smoking laws
- Rhode Island is ranked 4th in the U.S. for its cigarette tax of $4.25 per pack (enacted August 2017), compared to the national average of $1.91. (The District of Columbia has the highest tax at $4.50 and Missouri has the lowest at 17 cents.)6-8
- Cigars, pipe tobacco products and smokeless tobacco, other than snuff, are taxed at 80% of the wholesale coast. The tax on cigars cannot exceed 50 cents per cigar.
- Snuff is taxed at $1 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
- E-cigarettes are included in the state’s definition of smoking.9
- The sale of all flavored e-cigarettes is prohibited.10
- Retailers and wholesalers are required to obtain a license to sell tobacco products.6
- Retailers and wholesalers are required to obtain a license to sell e-cigarette products.9
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 the sale of tobacco products to underage consumers is prohibited.6
- Underage persons are prohibited from buying bidis and/or e-cigarettes.6
- The sale or distribution of e-cigarettes to underage persons is prohibited. 9
- Underage persons are prohibited from buying, using, and possessing e-cigarettes, 9
- Vending machine sales of e-cigarettes are restricted to locked machines in locations under continual supervision and in direct sight of authorized person on a business premises or in locations inaccessible to persons under age 21. 9
- Distribution of free e-cigarettes or coupons for free products within 500 feet of any school is prohibited. 9The sale of flavored e-cigarettes is prohibited. 9
Local tobacco laws
- Central Falls, Johnston, and Providence have banned the sale of flavored tobacco products, except menthol, mint and wintergreen. Smoking and hookah bars are exempt.10
- Barrington, Central Falls, Johnston, Middletown, Providence and West Warwick prohibit licensed tobacco vendors from selling discounted tobacco products through coupon redemption and multipack offers.11
Quitting statistics and benefits
Quitting vaping and smoking in Rhode Island
- The CDC estimates 54.4% of daily adult smokers in Rhode Island quit smoking for one or more days in 2019.3
- In 2014, the Affordable Care Act required that Medicaid programs cover all tobacco cessation medications.7**
- Rhode Island’s state quit line invests $1.04 per smoker, compared to the national average of $2.28.7
- Rhode Island has a private insurance mandate provision for cessation.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, 2019.
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. 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.
10. Truth Initiative, Local restrictions on flavored tobacco and e-cigarette products. https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/emerging-tobacco-products/local-restrictions-flavored-tobacco-and-e-cigarette.
11. Tobacco-Free Rhode Island. RI Local Tobacco Control Ordinances & Policies. http://tobaccofree-ri.org/local-ordinances.htm. Published 2018. Accessed.