Technology & Science

Smoking declines among teens, young adults

Smoking rates appear to be on the decline among teens and young adults, new data from Statistics Canada suggests. Data from the 2009 Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey finds the smoking rate among teens aged 15 to 19 was 13 per cent last year, down from 15 per cent in 2008.

Smoking rates appear to be on the decline among teens and young adults, Statistics Canada said Monday.

Data from the 2009 Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey revealed that 18 per cent of respondents age 15 and older reported smoking either daily or occasionally. That's unchanged from 2008, but down from 25 per cent in 1999.

The smoking rate among teens age 15 to 19 was 13 per cent, down from 15 per cent  in 2008. The prevalence of smoking among young adults age 20 to 24 also dipped — to 23 per cent from 27 per cent in 2008.

Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, said that while there has clearly been progress in reducing smoking in Canada, rates remain at "unacceptably high levels." He said everything should be done to reduce the rates as quickly as possible.

Cunningham said there is particular concern linked to the "slowing of the decline in smoking."

He points to the reported six percentage point decline in the smoking rate among those age 15 and older — from 25 per cent in 1999 to 19 per cent in 2005. Yet from 2005 to 2009, the rate declined by only one percentage point, Cunningham noted.

"We would like to be making much more progress a lot faster," he said in an interview Monday.

Cunningham said both Health Canada and the provincial governments need to do more, including stronger legislation, more funding for programs to reduce smoking and stricter measures to reduce the sale of contraband tobacco.

"Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of disease and death in Canada, killing 37,000 Canadians each year," Cunningham said. "That's why it's essential governments maintain a strong focus for effective action to reduce smoking, including with kids."

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