An estimated 15.3% of adults in the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson metro area smoke, lower than the 17.0% national smoking rate and higher than the 14.6% statewide smoking rate. Baltimore’s smoking rate is the second lowest in Maryland.

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. Baltimore residents have a life expectancy of 77.7 years, slightly shorter than the average American life expectancy of 78.5 years. Still, Baltimore has the second highest life expectancy of any Maryland metro area.

The most common cause of premature death for smokers is lung cancer. In Baltimore there are 67 cases of lung cancer for every 100,000 residents, a marginally higher rate of 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 Baltimore, an estimated 405 die before the age of 75, a smaller number than 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 Baltimore, 10.6% 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 38.6% of Baltimore adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, a larger share than than the national rate and the highest of any metro area in Maryland.

Rank Geography Smoking
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%