Smallest-ever percentage of Canadians smoking
Published Wednesday, September 7, 2011 10:46PM EDT
A smaller percentage of Canadians than ever is smoking, Statistics Canada reports in a new study.
The agency announced Wednesday that the smoking rate dropped to 17 per cent in 2010, down from 25 per cent when the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey was first conducted in 1999.
The most encouraging news from the survey was the finding that smoking rates have fallen significantly among teens aged 15 to 17. Usage in this age group fell to nine per cent -- the group's lowest rate ever recorded.
When older teens were included, the smoking rate among youth between the ages of 15 and 19 was 12 per cent. That works out to about 268,000 teens. Seven per cent of those youth reported smoking daily, while 5 per cent reported smoking "occasionally."
CTV's medical specialist Avis Favaro said that the anti-tobacco campaign is one of the most successful health initiatives on the part of the federal, provincial and municipal governments.
"They raised taxes on cigarettes, they've controlled the way that it is sold, they've banned smoking in workplaces and restaurants, so they've generally made smoking less socially acceptable," she told CTV News on Wednesday.
Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst from the Canadian Cancer Society, said that even with the strides made, governments must still be prepared to crack down even further on smoking.
"We cannot become complacent," he told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview. "An enormous amount of work remains to be done."
Favaro said that because the original goal was to get the smoking rate down to 12 per cent in 2011, Canadians will probably see more efforts taken by the government and anti-smoking groups.
"Watch for in 2012 to have larger health warnings on cigarette packages, watch for new campaigns against alternative tobacco products, like hookah smoking, and there will be anti-smoking groups pushing for a renewal of the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy," she said.
The Federal Tobacco Control Strategy, which was behind such efforts as increasing the size of health warnings on cigarette packaging, is set to expire next year.
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq calls the results "encouraging." She says she's particularly impressed by the drop in smoking among youth.
The federal government stepped up its anti-smoking messaging to youth in 2010, in response to an increase in small-cigar smoking.
The number of youth aged 15 to 19 who reported smoking little cigars in the 30 days prior to being surveyed was down to six per cent, from eight per cent in 2009.
The rate of Canadian adults over the age of 25 who said they smoked daily was 13 per cent, while the rate for occasional smoking was about 3 per cent. A higher percentage of adult males than females were current smokers -- 20 per cent of males compared with 13 per cent of females.
The lowest percentage of smokers aged 15 and up was in British Columbia, which has a smoking rate of 14 per cent, to a high of 21 per cent in Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Manitoba.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the smoking rate in that country had dropped to 19.3 per cent of adults, from about 21 per cent in 2005.
The CDC's director Dr. Thomas Frieden urged more smokers to quit.
"About half of all smokers will be killed by tobacco if they don't quit," he told a news briefing.
"You don't have to be a heavy smoker or a long-time smoker to get a smoking-related disease or have a heart attack or asthma attack," Frieden said. "The sooner you quit smoking, the sooner your body can begin to heal."