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Tobacco use in Virginia

Smoking rates in Virginia compared to the national averageCigarette use: Virginia*

  • In 2016, 15.3 percent of adults smoked. Nationally, the rate was 17.1 percent.¹
  • In 2017, 6.5 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: Virginia

  • In 2015, 2.3 percent of adults used e-cigarettes, 1.4 percent used smokeless tobacco and 2.4 percent smoked cigars.³
  • In 2017, 11.8 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes, 4.2 percent used smokeless tobacco and 6.4 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

Chart showing how much each tobacco product is used in Virginia

Economics of tobacco use and tobacco control

  • Virginia received $314.1 million (estimated) in tobacco settlement payments and taxes in fiscal year 2018.
  • Of this, the state allocated $8.5 million in state funds to tobacco prevention in fiscal year 2018, just 9.3 percent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual spending target.
  • Smoking-caused health care costs: $3.11 billion per year
  • Smoking-caused losses in productivity: $3.06 billion per year

Virginia tobacco laws

Tobacco taxesVirginia cigarette tax

  • Virginia is ranked 50th in the U.S. for its cigarette tax of 30 cents per pack (enacted July 2005), 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
  • Moist snuff is taxed at 18 cents per ounce. Loose-leaf tobacco is taxed at 21 cents for a single unit, 40 cents for a half-pound unit, 70 cents for a pound-unit or 21 cents for all other units, pouches or packages plus an additional 21 cents for each 4-ounce increment over a pound. All other tobacco products are taxed at 10 percent of the manufacturers’ sales price.⁶ ⁷

Clean indoor air ordinances

  • Smoking is prohibited in schools (public schools only) and childcare facilities (excludes home-based child care providers).⁶ ⁷
  • Smoking restrictions are required in government workplaces, restaurants, bars, retail stores and recreational/cultural facilities.⁶ ⁷
  • There are no smoking restrictions in private workplaces or casinos/gaming establishments.⁶ ⁷

Youth access laws

  • The minimum age of sale for tobacco products in Virginia is 18.
  • Establishments are required to post signs stating that sales to minors are prohibited.
  • Minors are prohibited from buying bidis and alternative nicotine products, including e-cigarettes.

Quitting statistics and benefits

  • The CDC estimates that 53.9 percent of daily adult smokers in Virginia quit smoking for one or more days in 2016.
  • In 2014, the Affordable Care Act required that Medicaid programs cover all quit medications. However, there is not yet evidence that the Virginia Medicaid program has complied with this requirement regarding NRT nasal spray, NRT lozenge, NRT inhaler, and Varenicline (Chantix).**
  • Virginia’s state quit line invests 39 cents per smoker, compared to the national average of $2.10.
  • Virginia 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. CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System, 2016.