Tobacco statistics in Massachusetts and how tobacco use impacts your health

Learn about tobacco use in Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Who uses tobacco?

In 2017, 13.7% of Massachusetts adults were current smokers, a historic low.i

  • 14.8% of men smoke; 12.6% of women smoke
  • 13.5% of whites, 15.7% of blacks, and 18.3% of Hispanics smoke
  • 17.4% of adults, age 45-54 smoke, the highest of any age group
  • 7.4% of adults, ages 18-24 smoke. However, this rate does not reflect use of other tobacco products (e.g.; little cigars, e-cigarettes, etc.), which may be more prevalent among this age group.
  • 7.8% of adults, age 18-24 use e-cigarettes, the highest of any age group. Overall, 3.3% of adults use e-cigarettes.

(Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2017)

Youth tobacco use

  • 6.4 % of Massachusetts high school youth reported smoking cigarettes.
  • 11.4% of Massachusetts high school youth were current users of any conventional product
  • 20.1% of Massachusetts high school youth reported using an electronic nicotine delivery product (e-cigarette)

(Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2017)


Current use is defined as use within the past 30 days.

Conventional tobacco use is defined as the use of cigarettes, cigars (including little cigars and cigarillos)and smokeless tobacco (such as chewing tobacco, snuff, or dip). This does not include e-cigarettes.

Tobacco use risk factors

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, more than 9,300 people die each year from smoking. Nationally, tobacco kills more people than motor vehicle crashes, AIDS, homicides, and poisonings combined.

What are the health effects of tobacco?

Evidence has linked smoking to diseases of nearly all organs of the body.

The 2014 Surgeon General’s report concludes that smoking causes: lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or lung disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis and immune system weakness, increased risk for tuberculosis disease and death, ectopic (tubal) pregnancy and impaired fertility, erectile dysfunction, and age-related macular degeneration. Smoking can also trigger or make an asthma attack worse.

According to the National Cancer Institute, tobacco use causes many types of cancer, including cancer of the lung, larynx (voice box), mouth, esophagus, throat, bladder, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas, colon and rectum, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia. People who use smokeless tobacco (snuff or chewing tobacco) have increased risks of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas.

Fact sheet

Nicotine addiction

Tobacco products contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance.

Adolescents are especially harmed by nicotine since their brains are still developing. Nicotine can produce structural and chemical changes in the developing brain and may lead to future alcohol and other drug addiction, panic attacks, and depression. Because of the way nicotine changes the brain, people who start smoking as adolescents smoke more and have a harder time quitting than people who start as adults.

The dangers of secondhand smoke

The 2006 Surgeon General’s Report on Secondhand Smoke concludes there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Opening a window, sitting in a separate area, or using air filters or a fan does not get rid of secondhand smoke.

Though they are not smokers themselves, an estimated 1,000 or more Massachusetts adults and children die each year from exposure to secondhand smoke.

Fact sheets

Additional resources

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