Health Fact Sheets
Smoking, 2016

Release date: September 27, 2017

In 2016, 16.9% of Canadians aged 12 and older (roughly 5.2 million people) smoked either daily or occasionally.Note 1 The proportion of Canadians aged 12 and older who smoked either daily or occasionally declined between 2015 and 2016 (17.7%, 16.9%). Note 2Note 3

Among the sexes, the proportion who smoked daily or occasionally was higher among males (19.4%) than females (14.5%, Chart 1).

Across all age groups, smoking was least common among youth aged 12 to 17 (3.6%), followed by adults 65 and older (9.5%). The group with the largest proportion of smokers was males aged 20 to 34—about one in four (25.8%) men in this age group were smokers (Chart 1).

Chart 1 Daily or occasional smokers, by age group and sex, household population aged 12 and older, Canada, 2016

Data table for Chart 1
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1. The information is grouped by Age group (years) (appearing as row headers), Percent and Confidence Interval, calculated using Lower 95% limit and Upper 95% limit units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Age group (years) Percent Confidence Interval
Lower 95% limit Upper 95% limit
Males
Total (12 and older) 19.4 18.6 20.2
12 to 17 3.9 2.9 5.0
18 to 19 14.1 10.2 18.0
20 to 34 25.8 23.9 27.7
35 to 49 21.4 19.5 23.3
50 to 64 22.4 20.8 24.1
65 and older 11.0 9.9 12.2
Females
Total (12 and older) 14.5 13.8 15.1
12 to 17 3.3 2.4 4.3
18 to 19 13.1 9.3 16.8
20 to 34 18.2 16.6 19.8
35 to 49 16.4 14.8 17.9
50 to 64 17.7 16.2 19.2
65 and older 8.1 7.3 8.9

Of the 5.2 million current smokers, the majority (3.7 million) smoked cigarettes daily. The majority of non-smokers were lifetime abstainers. Just over one in five Canadians (21.8%) were non-smokers who used to be daily smokers (Chart 2).

Chart 2 Smoking status, household population aged 12 or older, Canada, 2016

Data table for Chart 2
Data table for Chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2 Percent and Confidence Interval, calculated using Lower 95% limit and Upper 95% limit units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Percent Confidence Interval
Lower 95% limit Upper 95% limit
Current daily smoker 12.0 11.6 12.5
Current occasional smoker 4.9 4.6 5.2
Former daily smoker (non-smoker now) 21.8 21.2 22.3
Former occasional smoker (non-smoker now) 2.9 2.7 3.1
Experimental smoker 12.8 12.4 13.3
Lifetime abstainer 45.6 44.9 46.3

People typically begin smoking during their teenage years,Note 4 so the percentage who have not started smoking by age 20 is an indicator of future smoking rates. In 2016, 57.3% of those aged 20 to 24 had never smoked. Among this age group, the proportion for never smoking was higher for females than for males.

The proportion of smokers in Canada decreased as household income increased. Among households within the lowest income quintile,Note 5 almost 1 in 4 Canadians were smokers (23.4%). In households in the highest income quintile, just over 1 in 10 were smokers (12.0%; Chart 3).

Chart 3 Daily or occasional smokers, by household income quintile, household population aged 12 and older, Canada, 2016

Data table for Chart 3
Data table for Chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 3 Percent and Confidence Interval, calculated using Lower 95% limit and Upper 95% limit units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Percent Confidence Interval
Lower 95% limit Upper 95% limit
First quintile 23.4 22.1 24.8
Second quintile 18.2 17.0 19.3
Third quintile 16.3 15.1 17.4
Fourth quintile 14.6 13.5 15.7
Fifth quintile 12.0 11.1 13.0

For analysis of smoking with other healthy behaviours see the ‘Healthy Behaviours’ Fact Sheet.

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About Smoking

Smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic respiratory disease, and other conditions.Note 6 According to the World Health Organization, smoking is an important and preventable cause of death.Note 7

The Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) categorizes respondents by smoking status based on their self-reported smoking habits:

  • Lifetime abstainer - Has never smoked a whole cigarette
  • Experimental smoker - Has smoked at least 1 whole cigarette, but less than 100 in their lifetime
  • Former occasional smoker (non-smoker now) - Currently doesn’t smoke, but has smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime. These respondents have never smoked daily
  • Former daily smoker (non-smoker now) - Currently doesn’t smoke, but has smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime. These respondents have previously smoked daily
  • Current occasional smoker - Smokes cigarettes occasionally
  • Current daily smoker - Smokes cigarettes every day

The CCHS smoking rate covers cigarettes that are bought ready-made as well as cigarettes that are self-made, but does not include electronic cigarettes.

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References

Shields, M. 2007. “Smoking bans: Influence on smoking prevalence”. Health Reports. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-003. Vol. 18, no. 3. (accessed January 17, 2017)

Shields, M. 2005. “The journey to quitting smoking”. Health Reports. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-003. Vol. 16, no. 3. (accessed January 17, 2017)

Shields, M. 2005. “Youth smoking”. Health Reports. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-003. Vol.16, no. 3. (accessed January 17th, 2017)

World Health Organization. 2008. “WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008”. The MPOWER Package. Geneva. (accessed January 17, 2017)

Jiajian, C., and W.J. Millar. 1998. “Age of smoking initiation: Implications for quitting”. Health Reports. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-003. Vol. 9, no. 4. (accessed January 11, 2017)

Data

Additional data from the Canadian Community Health Survey are available from CANSIM 105–0508.

Notes

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