Smoking and tobacco use in erie county

Smoking and Tobacco Use

Analysis Categories

What does this measure?

Tobacco use comparing Everyday Smokers, Non-Smokers, and Chewing Tobacco users by age, sex, educational attainment, and income level. Banded in 3 year increments since 2000 for both Erie County and Pennsylvania.

Why is this important?

Smoking is a leading cause of preventable death, causing more than 480,000 deaths per year in the U.S. and leading to higher long-term health costs. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease both among smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke. Smokeless tobacco is the leading cause of oral cancer and increases likelihood of other oral disease.

How is Erie County doing?


Erie County shows a slightly higher everyday smoker rate than the whole of PA at 1% higher, particularly amongst the age grouping of 18 to 44 who in Erie County represented the highest average category at 17%. Overall, across all age categories, there were fewer non-smokers in Erie County than PA on average.

Educational Attainment

In Erie County residents with only a high school diploma were 3% lower than the state average of 19% to be an everyday smoker. Inversely, residents who reported as having some college education or an associate's degree were more likely on average to smoke, reporting as 16% everyday smoker compared to the statewide 13%. Another variable which Erie County ranks lower on average than PA concerning tobacco use and educational attainment is within chewing tobacco use amongst college graduates, with a reported 1% within Erie County as compared to a statewide 2%.


Across most variables and categories of income levels, Erie County reported lower averages of non-smokers and higher averages of everyday smokers and chewing tobacco users. The only inverse to this trend occurs for residents identified as everyday smokers, wherein those earning $25,000 to $49,000 per year in Erie county (13%) were lower than the statewide average of 16% everyday smokers. Likewise, Erie county's everyday smokers represent 7% of those earning $50,000+, while statewide that number is 9%.

Over Time

Non-smokers continue to fall between the 2015-to-2017 and 2017-to-2019 year bands, by -1% for the entire reported population, from 48% to 46%. The statewide level of non-smoking population rose +1% for the reported population, from 55% to 56%. 

Everyday smokers remained the same between the 2013-to-2015 and 2015-to-2017 year bands, at 17% of the reported population, but dropped to 14% for the latest data years. The statewide level of everyday smokers stayed steady at 13%.

Chewing tobacco users in Erie County fell between the 2012-to-2014 and 2015-to-2017 year bands but jumped to 8% for the latest data years, the highest since current analysis began. The statewide level of chewing tobacco users remained for the reported population, at 4%.

A note to the limited scope of these variables' trends: according to the PA Department of Health, "In 2011, a new weighting methodology was adopted along with the inclusion of cell phones in the survey. Due to this change, statistics for years prior to 2011 should not be compared to statistics from 2011 to present."

EVS Indicators

EVS analyzes the data in each topic category using indicators, which report a targeted and digestible number, rate, or amount to represent Erie County as a whole. While this does not cover every aspect of the topic, it assists in establishing Erie's performance relative to the prior year(s). The indicator for the Health: Smoking & Tobacco topic is:


This indicator measures the percentage of Erie County adults in a who identified that they are a smoker (smoke every day or some days). The trend for Adult Smokers was down and better for the latest 2017 to 2019 period with a reported decrease of -3.0% within the County.

How does Erie compare to Pennsylvania?

About this Data

Data from the PA Department of Health as of 02/2023.