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Fact Sheet Fact Sheet

Tobacco use in North Carolina 2019

Cigarette use: North Carolina

Cigarette use in North Carolina

  • In 2017, 17.2% of adults smoked. Nationally, the rate was 17.1%.1
  • In 2017, 12.1% of high school students in North Carolina smoked cigarettes on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 8.8%.2
Cigarette use in North Carolina graphic

Other tobacco product use: North Carolina

E-cigarette and smokeless tobacco use in North Carolina

  • In 2017, 4.6% of adults used e-cigarettes and 4.5% used smokeless tobacco.3
  • In 2017, 22.1% of high school students in North Carolina used electronic vapor products on at least one day in the past 30 days. Nationally, the rate was 13.2%.2
Other tobacco product use in North Carolina graph

Economics of tobacco use and tobacco control

Economics of tobacco use in North Carolina

  • North Carolina received $450.4 million (estimated) in revenue from tobacco settlement payments and taxes in fiscal year 2019.4
  • Of this, the state allocated $2.8 million in state funds to tobacco prevention in fiscal year 2019, 2.8% of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s annual spending target.4
  • Smoking-caused health care costs: $3.81 billion per year.4
  • Smoking-caused losses in productivity: $4.24 billion per year.5
Cigarette tobacco tax in North Carolina graph

North Carolina tobacco laws

Cigarette tax in North Carolina

Tobacco taxes

  • North Carolina is ranked 47th in the U.S. for its cigarette tax of 45 cents per pack (enacted September 2009), compared to the national average of $1.81. (The District of Columbia has the highest tax at $4.50 and Missouri has the lowest at 17 cents.)6-8
  • E-cigarettes are taxed at 5 cents per fluid milliliter of consumable product. All other tobacco products are taxed at 12.8% of the cost price.6,7,9

Clean indoor air ordinances

  • Smoking is prohibited in schools (public schools only), restaurants and bars (cigar bars are excempt).6,7
  • Smoking restrictions are required in government workplaces (prohibited in state government buildings) and childcare facilities.6,7
  • There are no smoking restrictions for private workplaces, casinos/gaming establishments (tribal casinos only), retail stores and recreational/cultural facilities.6,7
  • The use of e-cigarettes is prohibited at child care centers, family child care homes, state correctional facilities and on school property and at school sponsored events.10

Youth access laws

  • The minimum age to purchase tobacco products in North Carolina is 21. In December 2019, the United States adopted a law raising the federal minimum age of sale of all tobacco products to 21, effective immediately.
  • Establishments are required to post signs stating that sales to minors are prohibited.6,7

Quitting statistics and benefits

Quitting statistics in North Carolina

  • The CDC estimates 52.2% of daily adult smokers in North Carolina quit smoking for one or more days in 2017.3
  • In 2014, the Affordable Care Act required that Medicaid programs cover all tobacco cessation medications.7**
  • North Carolina’s state quit line invests $3.16 per smoker, compared to the national average of $2.21.7
  • North Carolina does not have a private insurance mandate provision for cessation.7

Notes and references

Updated April 2019

*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, 2017.

2. CDC, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 2017.

3. CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System, 2017.

4. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Broken Promises to Our Children: a State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 20 Years Later FY2019, 2018.

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, 2019.

8. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. State Cigarette Excise Tax Rates & Rankings.

9. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, State Excise Tax Rates for Non-Cigarette Tobacco Products, 2018.

10. Public Health Law Center. U.S. E-Cigarette Regulation: 50-State Review.