Tobacco Use in Canada
Patterns and Trends - 2015 Edition


Grades 6-9
| Age 15-19

Previous research indicates that most smokers begin smoking by age 19(xi). Accordingly, preventing smoking initiation is the target of many youth tobacco interventions, and youth initiation is monitored by Canada’s national tobacco surveys.

Ever Smoking - Grades 6-9

In 2012-13, the majority (86.5%) of students surveyed in grades 6-9 had never tried smoking cigarettes, ranging from 96.6% in grade 6 to 76.0% in grade 9. However, 13.5% of students overall had tried smoking. Figure 7.1 (below) provides a breakdown of the smoking status of these students.


In 2012-13, a higher percentage of male students (14.8%) had tried smoking cigarettes, compared to females (12.2%) in grades 6-9(65).


The overall percentage of students in grades 6-9 who had ever tried smoking dropped drastically between 1994 and the early 2000s; since then, there appears to have been an overall decrease, although the difference between 2010-11 and 2012-13 was not significant(66) (Figure 7.2). The percentage of students who had tried smoking a cigarette increased with grade level: in 2012-13, just 3.4% of students in grade 6 had tried smoking, compared to 24.0% of grade 9 students.


The percentage of students in grades 6-9 who had ever tried smoking a cigarette varied significantly by province(67) (Figure 7.3). For example, just 8.4% of youth in British Columbia had tried smoking, while nearly triple that (24.4%) in Quebec had tried.

Note that there are no provincial estimates for Manitoba for the 2012-13 YSS, as the province declined participation.