Cigarette Smoking Among Adults with Disabilities

Cigarette smoking kills almost one in five adults each year.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

Current cigarette smoking is significantly higher among adults with a disability (27.8%) compared to adults without a disability (13.4%). The percentage of adults with disabilities using E-cigarettes is also higher (8%) compared to adults without disabilities (3.9%).1

Public Health Programs and Campaigns

Access to proven smoking cessation treatments and services and public information campaigns may significantly reduce health care costs and save the lives of people, including those with disabilities. Evidence shows that access to comprehensive tobacco control programs can reduce smoking rates, tobacco-related deaths, and diseases caused by smoking.

To reduce and prevent smoking among people with disabilities, public health programs can:

  • Include disability in public health surveys and research activities
  • Update existing health promotion campaigns or programs with targeted smoking cessation messages for people with disabilities
  • Include people with disabilities in health promotion activities

What is CDC Doing to Reduce Smoking among People with Disabilities?

CDC provides funding to 19 State Disability and Health Programs that work to improve the health and wellness of people with disabilities by including them in health promotion activities to reduce smoking. For example,

The Ohio Disability and Health Program collaborated with the Ohio Department of Health’s Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Program (TUPCP) to encourage people with disabilities to use the Ohio Tobacco Quit Line.

  • The highlights of the program include:
    • Collaborating with TUPCP to add a disability screener question to the Quitline intake form to track people with disabilities who use the service. The addition of this identifier allows the program to track change in use of the Quitline by people with disabilities over time.
    • Collaborating with TUPCP to create a mass media campaign to raise awareness of the Quitline among people with disabilities. Focus groups were held to gather feedback from the disability community in the development of effective marketing materials. During the 3-month campaign, the proportion of callers with a disability who called the Quitline, relative to all callers, increased by 25%.
  • Engaging in a Tobacco Cessation Community of Practice that included TUPCP and National Jewish Health (provider of Ohio Tobacco Quitline). This work resulted in National Jewish Health requiring disability sensitivity training for Tobacco Quitline counselors.

Members of the Disability and Health and Tobacco units at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are working together to promote the Michigan Tobacco Quitline among people with disabilities.

  • The highlights of the program include:
    • Training vocational service specialists—those who work directly with employees—at Peckham Industries. Peckham is the largest vocational rehabilitation agency in Lansing (Michigan’s capitol), and the agency employs quite a few people with disabilities. Among other employee services, Peckham assists employees who wish to quit tobacco. Since the training, Peckham has changed its policies so that all employees who wish to quit tobacco are automatically referred to the Michigan Tobacco Quitline.
    • Partnering with a creative advertising class at Michigan State University, students were asked to design posters and other print materials that creatively illustrate the differences in smoking rates for various groups of people and the importance of accessible smoking cessation resources. This raised awareness about access and inclusion among the students and provided strong visual messages that MDHHS is using to promote the Michigan Tobacco Quitline among people with disabilities.

The New Hampshire Disability and Public Health Program developed materials that can be used by healthcare providers to support people with disabilities who want to quit smoking.



  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Division of Human Development and Disability. Disability and Health Data System (DHDS) Data [online]. [Accessed August 6, 2019].