About 17 per cent of Canadians over the age of 15 smoked last year, according to a Statistics Canada survey that monitors tobacco use.

The rate was 18 per cent two years ago.

Smoking rates continued to fall across the country and in all age groups, with British Columbia teenagers joining their counterparts in Ontario with the lowest rates in the country, at nine per cent.

"I am particularly encouraged by the numbers when it comes to youth," Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a news release announcing the latest smoking results of the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey.

The smoking rate among young people was highest in Saskatchewan, where 20 per cent of residents between 15 and 19 years of age smoked last year, according to the survey known as CTUMS.

Statistics Canada has conducted the survey since 1999, when 25 per cent of Canadians were smokers. That year, the smoking rate among young people 15 to 19 years old was 28 per cent. By 2010, it had fallen to 12 per cent.

The survey findings are similar to smoking results released by Statistics Canada earlier this summer as part of the agency's community health survey.

A Health Canada official said both surveys use the same data, but unlike CTUMS, the health survey deals with a broad range of health issues, not just tobacco.