The Canadian Cancer Society’s exclusive study: 5,000 children have already tried an electronic cigarette in Grade 6! One in three high school students have already smoked it (142,000 youths).

13 August 2014

Montreal -

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) – Quebec Division this morning revealed the results of a study that shows the popularity of electronic cigarettes among Quebec school students. According to the data gathered in 2012-2013, some 5,000 students in the final year of elementary school have already tried electronic cigarettes. High school students are no less tempted. While 8.5% of Grade 6 students in elementary school have used electronic cigarettes, the figure rises to 22% in the first year of high school. That’s more than a third of high school students – around 142,000 students – who’ve smoked electronic cigarettes.

Another cause for concern: even if electronic cigarettes are attractive to students who are already smokers, 18% of high school students – around 48,000 – who’ve never smoked have also tried them. In addition, 31% of high school students (around 84,000) who’ve never smoked an electronic cigarette are interested in giving it a try in the future.

“As far as the CCS is concerned, the government must act urgently to amend the Tobacco Act so that electronic cigarettes are not sold to minors and don’t create a fad among school students. Youths should be prevented from smoking in schoolyards,” says Suzanne Dubois, Executive Director, CCS – Quebec Division.

So, the CCS wants the regulation of electronic cigarettes to be included in the Tobacco Act to lead to a:

  • Ban on e-cigarette sales to minors (currently, no such regulation stops a merchant from selling electronic cigarettes to a minor)
  • Ban on using electronic cigarettes in public places where tobacco is not allowed
  • Regulation of advertising/promotion
  • Regulation of product ingredients and emissions

The CCS urges the government to act without delay because it has become child’s play to buy e-liquid refills containing nicotine, an illegal product, on the Web or at a shop. “These data are especially worrying because the industry is working very quickly to make electronic cigarettes more widely available by increasing the points of sale,” adds Ms. Dubois.

Canadian Cancer Society-funded study
Use of electronic cigarettes by Quebec school students, 2012-2013

Use (%) Number of students
Grade 6 (Elementary) 8.5 5,000
Secondary 1 22.2 18,900
Secondary 2 35.3 30,800
Secondary 3 36.2 32,800
Secondary 4 38.1 30,200
Secondary 5 40.9 29,500
Total (Secondary 1 to 5) 34.3 142,100
Electronic cigarettes and minors:
  • 5,000 Grade 6 students in elementary school have already tried electronic cigarettes
  • More than one in three or around 142,000 high school students have already smoked electronic cigarettes
  • Some 48,000 high school students who’ve never smoked have already tried electronic cigarettes (18%)
  • More than 8 in 10 high school students have heard about electronic cigarettes

Every day, the Canadian Cancer Society works to save more lives. With the support of thousands of Quebecers, donors and volunteers, we fight to prevent more cancers, enable our researchers to make more discoveries, and help more people touched by the disease. Let’s save more lives. Visit cancer.ca or call us at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

André Beaulieu

Spokesperson and Senior Advisor, Public Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Quebec Division

Phone: (514) 393-3444