The Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey (CTNS) 2019 measures the prevalence of cigarette smoking, vaping, alcohol and cannabis use among Canadians aged 15 years and older. CTNS is conducted by Statistics Canada on behalf of Health Canada.

Understanding Canadian trends in tobacco, nicotine, cannabis, and alcohol use is vital to the effective development, implementation and evaluation of national and provincial strategies, policies and programs.

The following summary presents findings based on the first CTNS seven-week data collection, which commenced October 29th, 2019 and ended December 17th, 2019. The results for 2019 are based on responses to an electronic questionnaire with telephone follow-up interviews from 8,614 respondents across all 10 provinces, representing a weighted total of 30.9 million Canadian residents aged 15 years and older. A set of detailed tables and some definitions used in this report are also provided.

Current Cigarette Smoking

The prevalence of current cigarette smoking in 2019 was 12% (3.7 million). There was no difference in the prevalence of current smoking between men (13% or 1.9 million) and women (11% or 1.7 million).

The prevalence of daily smoking was 9% (2.7 million) in 2019. There was no difference in the prevalence of daily smoking between men (9% or 1.3 million) and women (8% or 1.3 million).

The prevalence of occasional smoking was 3% (1.0 million) in 2019. The prevalence of occasional smoking was higher among men (4% or 602,000) than women (3% or 407,000).

Youth Cigarette Smoking (Aged 15 to 19 Years)

In 2019, the prevalence of current cigarette smoking among youth aged 15 to 19 was 5% (142,000). Occasional smoking among youth was 3% (82,000) and daily smoking was unreportable due to small sample size.

Young Adult Cigarette Smoking (Aged 20 to 24 Years)

The prevalence of current cigarette smoking among young adults aged 20 to 24 was 13% (240,000) in 2019. The prevalence of current smoking was not different between young adult men (15% or 145,000) and women (11% or 90,000).

The prevalence of daily smoking among young adults was 6% (101,000) and 8% (139,000) smoked occasionally.

Adult Cigarette Smoking (Aged 25 Years and Older)

The prevalence of current cigarette smoking among Canadian adults aged 25 years and older was 13% (3.3 million) in 2019. There was no difference in the prevalence of current smoking between men (13% or 1.7 million) and women (12% or 1.6 million).

The prevalence of daily smoking among adults was 9% (2.5 million) and occasional smoking was 3% (792,000). There was no difference in the prevalence of daily smoking between adult men (10% or 1.2 million) and adult women (9% or 1.3 million).

Vaping

In 2019, 16% (5.0 million) of Canadians aged 15 years and older had ever vaped. The prevalence of ever vaping was 36% (1.0 million) among youth aged 15 to 19, 48% (868,000) among young adults aged 20 to 24, and 12% (3.1 million) among adults aged 25 years and older. Eighteen percent (18% or 2.7 million) of men had ever tried vaping, which was higher than women (14% or 2.2 million).

Past-30-day vaping was reported by 5% (1.5 million) of Canadians aged 15 years and older. The prevalence of past-30-day vaping was 15% (424,000) among youth aged 15 to 19, 15% (275,000) among young adults aged 20 to 24, and 3% (761,000) among adults aged 25 years and older. Past-30-day vaping was higher among men (6% or 885,000) than women (4% or 564,000).

Among past-30-day vape users, 38% (558,000) were current smokers, 25% (365,000) were former smokers and 37% (536,000) were never smokers. Never smokers made up the majority of past-30-day vape users among youth aged 15 to 19 (79% or 231,000) and young adults (53% or 91,000), whereas current smokers made up the majority of past-30-day vape users among adults aged 25 and over (64% or 225,000).

Among Canadians aged 15 years and older who had used a vape in the past 30 days, 42% reported using a fruit flavour most often, 18% mint or menthol and 14% tobacco flavour. Half of youth aged 15 to 19 (51%) and young adults aged 20 to 24 (48%) reported using a fruit flavour most often, while among adults aged 25 years and older, 35% reported using a fruit flavour and 22% reported using tobacco flavour.

Among Canadians who had used a vape in the past 30 days, 84% (1.2 million) reported vaping an e-liquid containing nicotine, 19% (243,000) reported vaping an e-liquid that did not contain nicotine, and 6% (78,000) reported vaping an e-liquid with unknown nicotine content over the same time periodFootnote2.

Vape Sources and Reasons for Use

In 2019, past-30-day vape users were asked where they usually get their vaping devices. The majority of Canadians aged 15 years and over that used a vape in the past 30 days reported using retail sources to get their vaping devices (69%). Retail sources included vape shops, convenience or gas, supermarkets, grocery stores, drug stores, and online sales. Among youth aged 15 to 19 who used a vape in the past 30 days, most (57%) reported using social sources for their devices. Social sources included buying from a friend or family member, asking someone else to buy them for you, and having a friend or family member give or lend them to you. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of young adults aged 20 to 24 and 85% of adults aged 25 and over that used a vape in the past 30 days reported using retail sources to obtain their vaping devices.

Past-30-day vape users were also asked where they usually get their vaping liquids. The majority of Canadians aged 15 years and over that used a vape in the past 30 days reported using retail sources to get their vaping liquids (69%). Among youth aged 15 to 19 who used a vape in the past 30 days, most (57%) reported using social sources for their vaping liquids. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of young adults aged 20 to 24, and 86% of adults aged 25 and over that used a vape in the past 30 days reported using retail sources to obtain their vaping liquids.

Among Canadians aged 15 years and over who used a vape in the past 30 days, the most commonly reported reasons for vaping were smoking cessation (27%), curiosity (20%), and because they enjoyed it (20%). The most commonly reported reasons for vaping among youth aged 15 to 19 who used a vape past 30 days were curiosity (29%), because they enjoyed it (29%), and to reduce stress (21%). Among young adults aged 20 to 24 who used a vape in the past 30 days, the most common reasons for vaping were curiosity (27%) and smoking cessation (20%), while among adults aged 25 and over, the most common reasons were smoking cessation (41%) and to avoid returning to smoking (15%).

Vaping Cessation

In 2019, 31% (199,000) of Canadian daily vape users aged 15 years and older made least one quit attempt lasting 24 hours in the past year. The majority (63% or 81,000) of youth aged 15 to 19 that used a vape daily made at least one quit attempt in the past 12 months. The proportion of daily vape users that made at least one quit attempt in the past year was unreportable for young adults aged 20 to 24 and adults aged 25 years and older.

Perceived Risk of Harm of Vapes in Comparison to Cigarettes

Canadians were asked how harmful using vaping devices with nicotine were to a person’s health compared to smoking cigarettes. The majority of Canadians thought that using a vaping device was either “about the same as cigarettes” in terms of harm (32%) or didn’t know (28%). Among Canadians who used a vape in the past-30-days, the majority thought using a vaping device was either “much less harmful than cigarettes” (30%) or “somewhat less harmful than cigarettes” (30%). Among Canadians who were current smokers, the majority either didn’t know how harmful using a vaping device was in comparison to cigarettes (29%) or thought that using a vaping device was “about the same as cigarettes” in terms of harm (25%).

Provinces

Provincial prevalence of current smoking for Canadians aged 15 years and older ranged from a low of 10% in Alberta and British Columbia to a high of 17% in New Brunswick.

Past-30-day use of at least one tobacco product (cigarettes, cigars, little cigars or cigarillos, chewing tobacco, water-pipe and pipe) ranged from a low of 13% in Alberta and British Columbia to a high of 19% in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan.

Past-30-day use of vapes ranged from a low of 4% in Alberta and Ontario to a high of 9% in Manitoba.

Alcohol and Cannabis Use

Alcohol Use

In 2019, 62% (19.3 million) of Canadians aged 15 years and older reported using alcohol in the past 30 days. The prevalence of using alcohol in the past 30 days was 35% (993,000) among youth aged 15 to 19, 75% (1.3 million) among young adults aged 20 to 24, and 64% (16.9 million) among adults aged 25 years and over. Past-30-day alcohol use was higher among men (66% or 10.1 million) than women (58% or 9.1 million).

Smoking Cannabis

In 2019, 40% (12.0 million) of Canadians aged 15 years and older reported ever smoking cannabis. The prevalence of ever smoking cannabis was 25% (699,000) among youth aged 15 to 19, 55% (990,000) among young adults aged 20 to 24, and 39% (10.3 million) among adults aged 25 years and over. The prevalence of ever smoking cannabis was higher among men (41% or 6.2 million) than women (37% or 5.8 million).

Smoking cannabis in the past 30 days was reported by 10% (3.2 million) of all Canadians aged 15 years and older. The prevalence of smoking cannabis in the past 30 days was 13% (363,000) among youth aged 15 to 19, 26% (465,000) among young adults aged 20 to 24, and 9% (2.4 million) among adults aged 25 years and over. Thirteen percent (13% or 2.0 million) of men reported smoking cannabis in the past 30 days, which was higher than women (8% or 1.3 million).

Vaping Cannabis

In 2019, 9% (2.7 million) of Canadians aged 15 years and older reported ever vaping cannabis. The prevalence of ever vaping cannabis was 11% (311,000) among youth aged 15 to 19, 23% (406,000) among young adults aged 20 to 24, and 8% (2.0 million) among adults aged 25 years and over. The prevalence of ever vaping cannabis was higher among men (10% or 1.5 million) than women (8% or 1.2 million).

Vaping cannabis in the past 30 days was reported by 3% (907,000) of all Canadians aged 15 years and older. The prevalence of vaping cannabis in the past 30 days was 3% (97,000) among youth aged 15 to 19, 7% (119,000) among young adults aged 20 to 24, and 3% (691,000) among adults aged 25 years and over. Four percent (4% or 596,000) of men reported vaping cannabis in the past 30 days, which was higher than women (2% or 305,000).

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Health Canada – September 16, 2020.

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