An estimated 14.0% of adults in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton metro area smoke, lower than the 17.0% national smoking rate and slightly lower than the 14.7% statewide smoking rate. The Boston smoking rate is the second lowest in Massachusetts.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States. Approximately one in every five deaths, or more than 480,000 deaths annually, result from tobacco use.

Because of the habit’s many health consequences, life expectancy for smokers is more than 10 years shorter than that of nonsmokers. Boston residents have a life expectancy of 80.5 years, longer than the average American life expectancy of 78.5 years. Boston has the highest life expectancy of any Massachusetts metro area.

The most common cause of premature death for smokers is lung cancer. In Boston there are 66 cases of lung cancer for every 100,000 residents, a slightly higher incidence than the national rate of 62 lung cancer cases per 100,000 Americans.

Across the country, smokers are about three times as likely to die prematurely than nonsmokers. For every 100,000 residents in Boston, just 258 die before the age of 75, compared to the national mortality rate of 474 premature deaths per 100,000 Americans.

Over the past half century, the U.S. smoking rate has declined from 42.4% of adults to just 17.0%. In poor communities, however, the improvement was far less substantial. While 15.2% of adults at or above the poverty level smoke today, 26.3% of those below the poverty line do. In Boston, 10.2% of residents live in poverty, a smaller share than the 14.7% national poverty rate.

Smoking is also far more likely among less educated Americans. An estimated 46.0% of Boston adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, a larger share than than the national rate and the highest of any metro area in Massachusetts.

Rank Geography Smoking
rate
10 Monroe, LA 23.3%
9 Bowling Green, KY 23.4%
8 Charleston, WV 23.6%
7 Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, AL 23.8%
6 Clarksville, TN-KY 23.9%
5 Parkersburg-Vienna, WV 24.2%
4 Jonesboro, AR 24.3%
3 Lake Charles, LA 24.4%
2 Alexandria, LA 24.7%
1 Pine Bluff, AR 25.5%