Hispanics generally have lower rates of smoking than other racial/ethnic groups with the exception of Asian Americans. In 2008, approximately 4.8 million (15.8%) Hispanics smoked compared to 21.3 percent of non-Hispanic blacks and 22.0 percent of non-Hispanic whites.1 However, smoking remains a continuing and serious problem in the Hispanic community.

Key Facts About Smoking Among Hispanics

  • Rates of current smoking among Hispanic women were much lower than the rates seen among women of other races as well as Hispanic men. In 2008, the percent of Hispanic men who smoked (20.7%) was almost double that of Hispanic women who smoked (10.7%).2
  • There are significant variations in smoking rates among Hispanic subgroups. In 2008, Cubans had the highest rates of smoking at 21.5 percent, followed by American-born Mexicans (20.1%), Puerto Ricans (18.6%), Central and South Americans (12.8%), and immigrant Mexicans (11.6%), with the lowest rates among Dominicans at 10.7 percent.3
  • Puerto Rican women are nearly twice as likely to smoke as women of other Hispanic groups.4
  • Puerto Ricans and Cuban Americans are much more likely to be heavy smokers than other Hispanic groups.5
  • Between 1997 and 2007, the smoking rate has declined 51 percent among Hispanic high school students from 34 percent to 16.7 percent.6
  • In 2006, 6.8 percent of Hispanic middle school students smoked cigarettes, a rate about equal to other racial/ethnic groups.7
  • With the exception of Puerto Rican women, Hispanic women have low rates of smoking during pregnancy. In 2004, 2.6 percent of Hispanic women smoked during pregnancy; however, rates differ considerably within subgroups. In 2004, smoking during pregnancy was highest among Puerto Rican women (8.5 percent) and lowest among Central and South American women (1.2 percent).8

The American Lung Association has more information available on quitting smoking and our programs to help you do so, our advocacy efforts to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, and tobacco use trends on our website at www.lung.org, or through the Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872).


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey Raw Data, 2008. Analysis performed by the American Lung Association Research and Program Services Division using SPSS software.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Perez-Stable EJ, Ramirez A, Villareal R, Talavera GA, Trapido E, Suarez L, Marti J, & McAlister A. Cigarette Smoking Behavior Among U.S. Latino Men and Women from Different Countries of Origins. American Journal of Public Health. September 2001; 91(9):1424-30.
5. Ibid.
6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2007. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. June 6, 2008; 57(SS-04).
7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Use, Access and Exposure to Tobacco in Media Among Middle and High School Students – United States, 2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. April 1, 2005; 54(12):297-301. Corrected Data Tables.
8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2007 with Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans. November 2007.

*Racial and ethnic minority terminology reflects those terms used by the Centers For Disease Control.

February 2010