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Facts & Figures: Cigarette Smoking in Canada   To Smoking and Health  theme page, or Addictions theme page

1. Core Knowledge:


Over the past 45 years, the proportion of Canadians who smoke cigarettes regularly has declined steadily: a public health success story! Declining smoking prevalence in Canada, 1965 to 2010



2. Nice to Know:

More detail, by age: Declining smoking rates, Canada, 1999 to 2007.
The Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS) provides figures for 2009:
     There were 27,678,753 Canadians aged 15+
     – 4,851,274 were current smokers (17.5%)
     – 7,414,912 were former smokers who had quit.
In 2002 the figure was 5.4 million current smokers, or 21% of the population aged 15 and over.
     Back in 1966 the figure was 41%.
     (Sources: 2009 and 2000 Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Surveys, conducted by Statistics Canada on behalf of Health Canada).

The decline in Ottawa was even faster: from 23.6% current smokers in 2001 to 15.1% in 2007 (Ottawa Public Health department)

From 1980 to 1990, sales figures showed a 35% decline in tobacco consumption.

The numbers of cigarettes smoked per smoker each day also appears to be falling, from an average of 21 in 1985 to 16 in 2002 (Statistics Canada News Report July 29, 2003).

By 2000, Canada had more ex-smokers than current smokers.  At that time, about 5.9 million people (24% of the population aged 15 and older) still smoked daily or occasionally, but about 6 million people reported that they had quit.

The CTUMS web site is worth visiting. (But as they persist in altering its URL, I cannot give you a direct link: just Google it).

Pie charts showing changing numbers of smokers, Canada 1999 to 2008.



The decline in smoking illustrates the use of multiple strategies to combat a public health problem.  No single strategy is adequate, and all run the risk of a backlash.

Presumably the decline has been due to a combination of shifting public attitudes, price rises due to taxation, campaigns by the anti-smoking lobby and the ensuing legislation against smoking in public places.  At the same time, methods such as the nicotine patch to help people stop smoking have allowed physicians to play a more effective role.  

The Ontario story of imposing high taxes on tobacco and the resulting smuggling from New York state illustrates how any pricing policy has to consider what is happening in other countries.  

Discussion topics: What may be the implications of the rise in smoking among young women for mortality trends?  Lung cancer mortality in women has now overtaken that of breast cancer.   What should we be doing about this: as individuals and as professionals?

Smoking Advertisement


This advert was from the 1930s. Cigarette companies apparently produced medical adverts in response to public concern over perceived dangers of smoking. Stanford U has assembled a gallery of old tobacco adverts.

3. Additional Information:

Nerd's Corner: The economic cost of smoking

You get very different pictures of the health care costs due to cigarette smoking if you look at individual costs, comparing the health care consumption of a smoker and a non-smoker at each age, versus calculating the total population cost due to smoking at each age. The left panel shows that health care costs for smokers (red line) are higher at each age. However, overall smokers actually cost the health care system less because they die younger (green & blue lines in right diagram): these figures were from a study of Dutch men (statistics from 1988)
Individual health care costs due to smoking Population costs due to smoking