Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey - 2008..

August 14, 2009 - 2008 (Previous release)

In 2008, 18% of Canadians reported smoking either every day or occasionally, roughly the same rate since 2005. Smoking prevalence among adults aged 25 and older dropped from 19% in 2007 to 17% in 2008. Most notably, the smoking rate for women in this age group dropped from 18% in 2007 to 15% in 2008.

Nearly one-half (48%) of adults aged 20 to 24 and just under one-third (31%) of teens aged 15 to 19 reported ever having tried little cigars or cigarillos. The rate of people having smoked a little cigar or cigarillo in the 30 days prior to the survey was 12% for 20 to 24 year olds and 9% for 15 to 19 year olds.

Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society, said he's concerned about the slowing of the decline in smoking. He blamed the widespread availability of inexpensive contraband cigarettes, and noted that higher tobacco taxes are the most effective way to reduce smoking. "These cheap cigarettes, which may be 80 to 90 percent off, are having an adverse impact on how fast smoking rates are declining," he said in an interview Thursday, August 13th from Ottawa.

Cunningham: The contraband cigarettes are undermining gains made through smoke-free laws, bans on retail displays and controls on advertising. He urged the federal government and the provinces of Quebec and Ontario to take stronger action to get the contraband situation under control.

"These flavored little cigars, which come in flavors such as ice cream, peach and candy and fruit and cherry and so on, are a huge problem," Cunningham said. "Ten years ago, they essentially didn't exist in the market." He praised a government bill to ban them which was passed in the House of Commons in June and urged the Senate to do the same as quickly as possible.

Note: The Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS) and the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) produce estimates of national and provincial smoking rates. There are a number of differences between these two surveys. Each uses a different sampling frame.

The annual sample for CTUMS is 20,000, compared to 65,000 for CCHS. In the CCHS, smoking questions are asked in the context of a wide range of health-related behaviors; in CTUMS, all questions are related to smoking.

These factors can influence the estimates produced at a single point in time. However, the trends produced by the two surveys have been very consistent over time. Rather than comparing smoking rates produced from the two surveys, users should choose a single source, depending on their objectives, and use that source consistently.

Reference: Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey, Statistics Canada, 8/13/2009; Overall smoking rates about the same, decline seen among women 25 and up: StatsCan, The Canadian Press, 8/13/2009; Smoking rate stuck at 2005 level by KATHLEEN HARRIS, National Bureau Chief, Sun Media,, 8/13/2009.

Related news briefs: Canada - half of smokers have tried to quit..; Canada - federal government introduces legislation to ban flavored tobacco products..; Why NOT make it illegal for kids to smoke??; Alberta - smoking rate at an all time low..; Canadian Cancer Society calls for federal ban on flavored cigars...