Pot grows in popularity but tobacco use down, says StatsCan

Results of 2015 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs Survey show cigarettes losing appeal among young Canadians

Pot grows in popularity but tobacco use down, says StatsCan
Results have been released for the 2015 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs Survey (CATDS), which polled Canadians aged 15 years and up – focusing primarily on 15- to 24-year-olds – on their use of the controlled substances.

The survey found 3.8 million respondents who smoke tobacco – an overall prevalence rate of 13%. This is a 2% decrease from 2013, driven by reductions in tobacco use among adults over 25. The prevalence of smoking among youths and young adults did not change. E-cigarette usage rose to 13%, a 9% increase from 2013; half of the e-cigarette users reported using it as an aid to quit smoking.

There was a slight uptick in the number of people who have used cannabis in the past year – 12% in 2015 compared to 11% in 2013. Among users, 24% cited medical reasons for using the substance. While 72% reported using it in the past three months, 33% admitted daily or almost-daily use, and 28% reported vaporizing it. The median age for first-time cannabis use was 17 years old.

Twenty-one percent of the respondents indicated that they had used a psychoactive drug in the past year; among those users, 3% admitted to substance abuse. The reported rate of use was highest among adults aged 25 or older (22%, or 5.4 million).

Reported use of opioid pain relievers, which include both therapeutic use and abuse, was 13% – a 2% decline from 2013.

Use of five illicit drugs – cocaine or crack, speed or methamphetamine, ecstasy, hallucinogens, or heroin – was reported by 2% of Canadians aged 15 years or older, which was a slight increase from 2013’s 1.6%.

“While I am happy to see that the overall smoking rates have fallen, the CTADS data show we still have work to do,” said federal health minister Jane Philpott. “We must continue the fight to reduce the rates of tobacco use, particularly among youth. We must also remain vigilant in moving forward with our partners in addressing the problematic use of other substances as well.”

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