Tobacco: significant drop in consumption among 20-24 year olds in one year

Tobacco use in Canada has declined over the past year in certain population groups, particularly among 20-24 year olds. However, quitting is not for everyone: nearly 3 million Canadians aged 25 and over are still smokers, shows Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey 2020.

According to these latest data, 1 in 10 Canadians say they smoke cigarettes on a regular basis, but the level of consumption varies according to age. Those aged 25 and over are more likely to report being smokers (11%) than those aged 20 to 24 (8.4%) and 15 to 19 (3%).

Gender is also an important determinant. Overall, smoking is more common among men (12%) than among women (9%). In the 20-24 age group, in 2020, only 4.3% of respondents to the questionnaire said they smoked, compared to 12.3% of men of the same age.

The most recent Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey was conducted between December 2020 and January 2021. It takes into account all types of tobacco products, cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, pipe, chewing tobacco and hookah (oriental pipe) . Vaping, with or without nicotine, a type of consumption that is especially popular among 15 to 19 year olds (14.4%) and 20-24 year olds (13%), is the subject of separate surveys. This practice reached only 3.2% of smokers aged 25 and over last year.

Decrease from 2019 to 2020

The results of the 2019 to 2020 Canadian surveys show a drop in consumption in the three target groups. The most significant decrease was observed among 20 to 24 year olds, a drop of 5%:

Former smokers and non-smokers

Nearly 25% of respondents to the 2020 survey said they were former smokers. This proportion was slightly higher among men, 26.7%, than among women, 23.1%. Among those aged 25 and over, 28.2% of respondents said they had stopped; of the number, 30.5% were men and 26.2% were women.

More women than men have never succumbed to tobacco; in 2020, 68.3% of female respondents said they had never smoked, compared to 61.4% of males. And the younger people are, the less likely they are to do so: 95.2% of 15 to 19 year olds said they had never smoked, compared to 86% among 20 to 24 year olds. cigarettes and other products are very noticeable in both sexes; 93.9% of men aged 15 to 19 said they had never smoked, 80.7% among those aged 20 to 24, but only 57.1% among those aged 25 and over. Among women, these proportions are 96.4% among those aged 15-19, 91.6% among those aged 20-24 and 64.3% among those aged 25 and over.

By province in 2019

Since tables of tobacco consumption by province in 2020 are not yet available, we must turn to the 2019 data to obtain this portrait. New Brunswick had the highest percentage of smokers in Canada, followed by Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. Quebec was doing worse than the national average as shown by these statistics from the Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey: Detailed Tables 2019:

Quebec under the magnifying glass

Also according to the Canadian Survey, in Quebec, 12.3% of 45-year-olds declared themselves smokers in 2019. This figure was 16% in Nova Scotia. Although the number of Quebecers who smoke has declined in recent decades, 13,000 people in the province die each year from diseases attributable to smoking, specifies the Ministry of Health (MSSS) in its Strategy for a tobacco-free Quebec 2020-2025. In addition, smokers live on average 10 years less. The majority of deaths attributable to smoking are attributable to cancer, cardiovascular disease or respiratory disease.

According to this study by the MSSS, from a financial standpoint, the price of smoking amounts to 2.5 billion dollars per year in the province. Researchers have calculated that every 1 percentage point drop in smoking saves $41 million annually in direct health care costs and $73 million in indirect costs, for a total of $114 million.

The Statistical Institute of Quebec indicates that in 2020, 12% of people aged 15 and over in Quebec smoked cigarettes and 4% vaped. The vast majority of vapers are under 25 years old. According to the research organization, more than 80% of smokers and vapers have reduced their consumption or have not changed it since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, but 20% of smokers and 18% of vapers would have increased it.

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