StatsCAN Plus

The smoke of the 20th century may be clearing, but vaping clouds are on the rise

January 8, 2024, 11:00 a.m. (EST)

The new year is a time when many Canadians look to make a change, whether it be exercising, eating right or quitting smoking. While you are far less likely to see or smell tobacco smoke in public nowadays compared with the 20th century, approximately 3.8 million people reported smoking tobacco in 2022, with 8.2% of Canadians aged 15 and older reporting they smoked every day.

Almost half of Canadians aged 15 and older have tried smoking tobacco at least once

Just under half (47.1%) of Canadians aged 15 and older told us they had smoked tobacco at least once in their lives in 2022, with just over 1 in 10 (10.9%) saying they smoked in the 30 days before the survey and 8.2% saying they smoked every day.

Canadians aged 25 and older are most likely to smoke occasionally or every day

Most Canadians who smoke today were born in the 20th century. Among Canadians aged 25 and older, 11.7% reported smoking in the month preceding the survey in 2022 and 9.3% reported smoking every day—the highest rates among all age groups.

LGB+ people aged 25 and older (13.9%) and men in the same age group (13.8%) were most likely to report smoking tobacco in the past month in 2022.

Just over 1 in 10 men aged 25 and older (10.3%) reported smoking every day in 2022, the highest rate among all age and gender groups covered in the study.

Gen Zs and youth are much less likely to smoke than their “elders” 

Canadians born this century are far less likely to have tried smoking or to smoke compared with those born last century.

In 2022, just over one-quarter (26.6%) of Gen Zs and 1 in 10 youth aged 15 to 19 (9.8%) reported smoking tobacco at some point.

Approximately 1 in 38 Canadians aged 20 to 24 reported smoking tobacco every day in 2022, while 1 in 100 youth aged 15 to 19 were daily smokers.

Vaping, the 21st-century way to smoke

While smoking rates among youth are low, they are much more likely to vape than the “older crowd”.

In 2022, Canadians aged 15 to 19 (30.0%) were over twice as likely to have tried vaping than those aged 25 years and older (14.7%). Almost half (47.5%) of Canadians aged 20 to 24 have tried vaping.

Approximately one in five Canadians aged 20 to 24 and one in seven youth aged 15 to 19 reported vaping in the past month in 2022.

In 2022, 1 in 10 Canadians aged 20 to 24 and 1 in 15 youth aged 15 to 19 vaped every day compared with 1 in 50 Canadians aged 25 and older.

Weighing the cost of smoking

Smoking is an expensive habit. Canadian households spent an average of $551 on tobacco products and smokers' supplies in 2021, with most of this money going towards cigarettes. This was comparable with what average Canadian households spent on public transportation ($598) during the year and was over twice as much as what they spent on reading material ($199).

Canadians also paid 9.4% more for cigarettes in October 2023 compared with 12 months earlier and almost one-third (+32.3%) more compared with prior to the pandemic in October 2019.

If the high cost does not put you off smoking perhaps this statistical nugget will. Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer death in Canada. In fact, more Canadians die of lung cancer than colorectal, pancreatic and breast cancers combined. In 2021 alone, an estimated 21,000 Canadians are expected to have died of lung cancer. The high rate of death (mortality rate) from lung cancer reflects both its high rate of diagnosis (incidence rate) and its low survival rate.

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