Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 14:08 EDT

Smoking still prevalent in segments of Canadian society

April 11, 2013

OTTAWA, April 11, 2013 /CNW/ – Decades of anti-smoking campaigns have
steadily and successfully whittled the rate of smokers in Canada from
half the population in 1965 to less than 20 per cent in 2011. On the
other hand, almost five million Canadians still smoke tobacco, and the
rate of decline has slowed in recent years.

A Conference Board of Canada report, Profile of Tobacco Smokers in Canada, identifies the segments of the Canadian population that have struggled
to kick the habit.

“It appears that, as the saying goes, the low-hanging fruit has been
picked. Further reductions in smoking will need to target the segments
of our population where the smoking rate is still high – lower-income
Canadians, in some blue-collar occupations and in industries such as
construction,” said Louis Thériault, Director, Health Economics for the Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care, which conducted the research.

“Most smokers work, so one of the best opportunities to help smokers
break the habit is through smoking cessation programs in the


        --  In 2011, 13.7 per cent of Canadians smoked on a daily basis and
            another 3.6 per cent were occasional smokers, a cumulative 17.3
            per cent of the population.
        --  In contrast, 42.5 per cent of Canadians had never smoked a
            cigarette in their lives.
        --  Almost 20 per cent of Canadian men smoke, compared with 15 per
            cent of women.

By province, Quebec had the highest percentage of its population as smokers (19.8
per cent) followed by Saskatchewan (19.2 per cent) in 2011. All four
Atlantic provinces had smoking rates of between 18.1 per cent and 19.1
per cent. Manitoba’s smoking rate was 18.7 per cent, while the rate
dropped to 17.7 per cent in Alberta. Ontario (16.3 per cent) and
British Columbia (14.2 per cent) had the lowest smoking rates in the

Three quarters of current smokers are employed, so the workplace is
potentially an effective place to increase understanding about the
health risks of tobacco and implement smoking cessation programs.

By industry employees, more than one-third of construction workers smoked in 2011 (34 per
cent), followed by mining and oil and gas extraction (29 per cent) and
transportation and warehousing (29 per cent). By occupation, 28 per
cent of trades, transport and equipment operators smoked in 2011.
Processing, manufacturing and utilities occupations had an employee
smoking rate of 24 per cent, and – in what may be surprising to some -
23 per cent of management smoked.

Smoking rates are highest among lower-income Canadians. One-third of
individuals making less than $20,000 smoked in 2010. In comparison,
only 16 per cent of Canadians making $80,000 or more smoked.

This report, Profile of Tobacco Smokers in Canada, is the first of a three-part briefing series Smoking Cessation and the
Workplace. Funding was provided by the Canadian Alliance for
Sustainable Health Care (CASHC) and Pfizer Canada. The second briefing
explores cessation programs – in particular workplace programs – and
presents the results of a survey of Canadian employers on smoking
cessation benefits. The third briefing builds on the Conference Board’s
economic modelling expertise and past work on cardiovascular and respiratory to estimate the potential impact of reducing smoking among employees.

These reports are part of the research program of the Conference Board’s
Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC). Launched in 2011, CASHC is a five-year Conference Board program of
research and dialogue. It will delve deeply into facets of Canada’s
health care challenge, including the financial, workplace, and
institutional dimensions, in an effort to develop forward-looking
qualitative and quantitative analysis and solutions to make the system
more sustainable.

As part of the CASHC initiative, the Conference Board is hosting the Western Summit on Sustainable Health in Edmonton on May 22-23.

SOURCE Conference Board of Canada

Source: PR Newswire