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Canadians are smoking less than they used to

Canadians have dramatically cut down on tobacco consumption over the last five decades, according to new figures released by Statistics Canada today.

From 1965 to 2013, the number of Canadians aged 15 and older who smoked declined from 49.5 percent to 14.6 percent. As you can see from the chart above, this trend was evident in both men and women. In 1965 however, the prevalence of smoking among men was significantly higher than women — that gap has narrowed substantially over the last 48 years.

A 2015 report by the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Population Health Impact which draws from StatsCan and Health Canada data, states that while the prevalence of smoking has declined over time, the rate of that decrease has slowed in recent years. That basically means that fewer Canadians are making the decision to go cold turkey on cigarettes, a trend that could potentially be problematic.

Of smokers that were polled by StatsCan in 2013, half of them pledged to stop smoking that year — only 11 percent succeeded. What’s also interesting to note is that the percentage of smokers who tried to quit was highest among young smokers, and appeared to decline with age.

Inuit Smokers

Statistics Canada also released the results of their survey on the prevalence of smoking among Inuit. A couple of things to note — the number of Inuit who smoke still remains significantly higher than the rest of the Canadians population. Having said that, from 1991 to 2012, the percentage of Inuit aged 15 and older who smoked declined from 64 percent to 52 percent.

Inuit aged 55 and older recorded the largest declines in daily smoking in the 1991 to 2012 period. This is in complete contrast to the trend of young, non-Aboriginal Canadians quitting smoking faster than those older to them.

Cover: Ben Ruby/Vice illustration

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