Research finds youth smoking rates dropping but remain unacceptably high

14 September 2016

Toronto -

The Canadian Cancer Society is encouraged by new national survey results released today showing a drop in youth smoking rates in Canada. However, youth smoking is still an enormous health concern and far more must be done to stop teens from smoking.

According to the survey, the percentage of high school smokers in grades 10 to 12 decreased from 13% in 2012-13 to 11% in 2014-15 (defined as smoking in the previous 30 days). The percentage of students who had smoked at least once dropped from 37% to 29%.

The data is from the 2014–2015 Canadian Student Tobacco and Drugs Survey (CSTADS).

“It is good news that fewer teens are smoking but far too many of them are still being seduced by the tobacco industry’s tactics,” says Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society. “We must continue making progress, including implementing plain packaging and increasing funding from Health Canada for initiatives and legislation under its Federal Tobacco Control Strategy. The Tobacco Act is 2 decades old. It must be modernized to respond to the current environment.”

The survey also found that water pipe (hookah) smoking is continuing to rise among youth. The percentage of grade 12 students who had smoked a water pipe in the previous 30 days increased from 5% in 2006-07 to 9% in 2014–2015. The number of students who had at least once smoked a water pipe doubled to 24% in 2014-2015 from 12% in 2006–2007.

For the first time, the survey also includes data on e-cigarette use across Canada. Among grade 10 to 12 students, 27% of students said they had tried e-cigarettes and 9% reported using e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days.

CSTADS (formerly the Youth Smoking Survey) was carried out in all 10 provinces between October 2014 and May 2015. It was conducted for Health Canada by the Propel Centre for Population Health at the University of Waterloo.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada, including about 30% of all cancer deaths. Tobacco kills 37,000 Canadians every year.

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, the Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. For more information, visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).

For more information, please contact:

Rob Cunningham

Senior Policy Analyst

Canadian Cancer Society

National office

Phone: (613) 565-2522 ext 4981