Tobacco Info

From Tobacco Info No. 5 - April 2011
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Tobacco Use in Canada:  Patterns and Trends, 2011 Edition


A striking and detailed portrait of an addiction

Male smokers consume approximately three more cigarettes per day than their female counterparts. Gender differences in consumption appear to have remained fairly stable since 1999.  Over 60% of Canadians who have ever been smokers have quit.  Nearly 60% of smokers who visited a doctor in the past year had received advice to quit.  What’s more, 58% of smokers age 15 to 18 usually obtain cigarettes from retail sources, while the remainder obtain them through social (27%) or other (15%) sources.

These facts are only a random sample of excerpts from Tobacco Use in Canada: Patterns and Trends, an annual report published by the University of Waterloo’s Propel Centre for Population Health Impact. It is a 96-page document that, for a second year in a row, delivers a striking and in depth portrait of tobacco addiction in Canada, with plenty of colourful and detailed charts and tables.  Using data from the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS) and the Youth Smoking Survey, scientists David Hammond, Jessica Reid and their team show, among other things, the evolution of smoking among youth (from 1999 to 2009) and current smoking prevalence.
It also addresses cigarette consumption and the use of various other tobacco products among males and females at various ages, in all Canadian provinces.  Several pages provide data about quit intentions and quit attempts, as well as the methods used by smokers to quit.  A third section examines the phenomenon of youth smoking.

Professor Roy Cameron, Executive Director of the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, hopes the report, which is available in its entirety at, will be useful to researchers, advocates, policy-makers, concerned citizens and journalists.

Smoking prevalence plateaus

According to the CTUMS’s first wave of results released by Health Canada on February 7, 2011, on Canadians aged 15 years and older who were surveyed during the first part of 2010 (February-June), 17,5% said that they smoke cigarettes, daily or non-daily. In the same period in 2009, this proportion reached 17,3%.  Given the margin of error, it means there was no significant movement in terms of smoking prevalence across the country.

The 2010 annual results from the CTUMS are likely to be released in August or September 2011.  Meanwhile, it is worth mentioning that the 2009 annual results, released in September 2010, also showed no significant change in the proportion of smokers in Canada.  At the same time, the results from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) revealed a small but statistically significant drop in the proportion and the number of smokers in the country from 2008 to 2009.

The first wave of the 2010 CTUMS may also trigger public health concerns.  While daily smokers seem to be as numerous as they were in the first months of 2009, their daily consumption has increased from 13.3 to 15.3 cigarettes per day in the first parts of 2009 compared to the same months in 2010.  Health Canada’s experts say it is a statistically significant rise, the first one since 1999.

By Pierre Croteau