Tobacco Use in Canada
Patterns and Trends - 2015 Edition


This report uses data from national surveys conducted by Health Canada and Statistics Canada to summarize the main patterns and trends in tobacco use in Canada, primarily between 1999 and 2013, with a focus on the current year. Highlights of the report are presented below.

Section I: Tobacco Use Among Canadian Adults (15+), 2013

Smoking Prevalence
  • 14.6% of Canadians (approximately 4.2 million) were current smokers.
  • The majority of smokers reported smoking daily (10.9% daily/3.8% non-daily prevalence).
  • Although smoking prevalence was at its lowest since measurement began, the observed prevalence decline appears to have slowed.
  • Prevalence was higher among males (16.0%) than females (13.3%).
  • Smoking prevalence was highest among young adults aged 25-34 and 20-24, at 18.5% and 17.9%, respectively.
  • There were significant differences between provinces in smoking prevalence.
  • Self-rated health varied by smoking status: smokers did not rate their health as highly as non-smokers.

Cigarette Consumption

  • Daily smokers in Canada smoked an average of 13.9 cigarettes per day.
  • Average consumption has declined by more than 3 cigarettes per day since 1999.
  • Male daily smokers consumed nearly 3 cigarettes more per day than females (15.2 and 12.5, respectively). Sex differences appear to have remained fairly stable since 1999.

Use of Other Tobacco Products

  • Cigarillos and cigars were the most popular tobacco products other than cigarettes: 3.3% of Canadians reported use in the past 30 days.
  • Use of most other tobacco products (cigars, cigarillos, pipe) was more prevalent among males than females, although waterpipe use was similar.
  • Use of cigars/cigarillos varied significantly by province.

Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

  • Six out of ten respondents (59.1%) reported being exposed to SHS in the past month including 12.9% who reported being exposed either every day or almost every day.
  • SHS exposure was more prevalent among males, youth and young adults, and current smokers.

Section II: Quitting Smoking, 2013

  • Six out of ten Canadians who have ever been smokers have now quit.

Plans to Quit

  • Nearly two-thirds of smokers were seriously considering quitting in the next 6 months; 3 in 10 were considering quitting in the next month.
  • More males than females were seriously considering quitting smoking in the next 6 months and in the next month.
  • Smokers of all ages were considering quitting at similar rates.

Quit Attempts and Success (Abstinence)

  • Half of smokers had tried to quit in the past year. One third had tried more than once.
  • More males than females had made a quit attempt.
  • Quit attempts varied by age group. The percentage of smokers who had tried to quit was highest among young smokers, and appeared to decline with age.
  • Among respondents who had made a quit attempt in the past year, 11% were still abstinent from smoking at the time they were surveyed.

Cessation Assistance

  • Relatively few (6%) former or current smokers who had recently attempted to quit used telephone quitlines for assistance.
  • The most recent data available for other forms of cessation assistance (from 2012) indicated that stop-smoking medications were used by nearly half (44%) of those who attempted to quit, while other forms of assistance were less popular.

Reasons for Quitting

  • Three-quarters of former smokers who quit in the past year cited health as their main reason for quitting smoking.

Section III: Tobacco Use Among Canadian Youth

Youth in grades 6-9, in 2012-13:

  • 13.5% of students in grades 6-9 had ever tried a cigarette.
  • 1.9% of students in grades 6-9 were current smokers overall, with grade-specific rates ranging from 0.9% for grade 7 (and grade 6 too low to report), to 4.2% for grade 9 students.
    • Smokers were fairly evenly split between daily (0.9%) and non-daily (1.0%) smoking.
    • Similar percentages of males (2.1%) and females (1.7%) were current smokers.
    • Prevalence varied by province, and was highest in Quebec, at 4.4%.
  • Nearly one-third of never-smokers in grades 6-9 were classified as susceptible to smoking.
  • Daily smokers in grades 7-9 smoked an average of 10.5 cigarettes per day.
  • 6.6% of students in grades 6-9 had ever smoked a cigar or cigarillo.
  • Most smokers in grades 6-9 usually obtained their cigarettes from social sources.
  • Seven out of ten current smokers in grades 6-9 reported ever trying to quit smoking.

Youth aged 15-19, in 2013:

  • One in five (20.2%) youth reported ever having smoked a whole cigarette.
  • 10.7% of youth aged 15-19 were current smokers overall, with age-specific rates ranging from 2.4% for 15-year-olds to 18.5% for 19-year-olds.
    • Similar percentages of youth smoked daily (5.1%) and non-daily (5.6%).
    • Prevalence was significantly higher among males (13.2%) than females (8.1%).
    • Prevalence ranged from 8.8% in Alberta to 13.9% in Saskatchewan.
  • Daily smokers aged 15-19 smoked an average of 9.2 cigarettes per day.
  • 23% of youth aged 15-19 had ever smoked a cigarillo, and 16% had ever smoked a cigar; 14% had ever used a waterpipe.
  • Gender differences were apparent: 24% of males and 8% of females had smoked a cigar, while 30% of males and 15% of females had smoked a cigarillo.
  • Four in ten smokers aged 15-18 usually obtained cigarettes from retail sources, while nearly half (44%) obtained them through social sources, and 16% through “Other” sources.
  • Six out of 10 smokers aged 15-19 were seriously considering quitting in the next 6 months.
  • More than half (57%) of smokers aged 15-19 had made a quit attempt in the past 12 months.