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Health Canada releases latest federal data on tobacco, alcohol and drug use

By Health Canada   


Results point to the need for continued work to help Canadians lead healthier lives.

Photo: Fotolia by Adobe

Problematic substance use has a very real impact on the lives of Canadians, their families and communities. 

Tobacco use is still the leading preventable cause of premature death and disease in Canada, and in 2017, approximately 4,000 Canadians lost their lives as a result of apparent opioid-related overdoses. Up-to-date data help the Government of Canada develop evidence-based policies and interventions to improve the overall health of Canadians.

Today, Health Canada released the results of the 2017 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CTADS). CTADS is a general population survey of tobacco, alcohol and drug use among Canadians aged 15 and older. Statistics Canada conducted the survey on behalf of Health Canada by interviewing more than 16,000 Canadians between February and December 2017.


The results indicate an increase in cannabis use among adults aged 25 and older, reaffirming the importance of continued public education efforts to inform Canadians about the health and safety facts of cannabis use. The survey also found that there was an increase in the prevalence of cigarette smoking in Canada, and an increase in the number of Canadians who have ever tried an e-cigarette. Results indicate that both opioid and alcohol use by Canadians aged 15 and older was unchanged from the previous survey in 2015.

The Government of Canada continues to take action to address problematic drug, alcohol and tobacco use among Canadians. This includes:

  • Consultations with Canadians to further strengthen the federal government’s health-focused approach to substance use issues through the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy;
  • Budget 2018 investments to help address the opioid crisis with a range of actions, over five years, to improve treatment, address stigma and expand the evidence base on problematic substance use;
  • Budget 2018 investments to enhance Canada’s Tobacco Strategy, a comprehensive approach to addressing tobacco use that aims to drive down the smoking rate in Canada to less than 5% by 2035; and
  • significant investments in continued public education and awareness activities to inform Canadians about the health and safety facts of cannabis use.
  • A full summary of the CTADS 2017 results is available on the Health Canada website.

Quick facts
CTADS 2017 results include the following:

  • In 2017, the overall prevalence of smoking among Canadians aged 15 and up was 15% (representing 4.6 million current smokers), an increase from 2015 when the prevalence hit an all-time low of 13%.
  • There was an increase in the prevalence of daily smoking among adults aged 25 and older to 12% in 2017, up from 10% in 2015. Occasional smoking in this age group was unchanged at 4%.
  • 15% of Canadians aged 15 and older had ever tried an e-cigarette in 2017, up from 13% in 2015. However, past-30 day use of e-cigarettes was unchanged from 2015, at 3%.
  • Past-year use of cannabis was at 15% in 2017, up from 12% in 2015.
  • Use of cannabis was highest among youth aged 15 to 19 years (19%) and young adults aged 20 to 24 (33%). 13% of adults aged 25 or older‎ reported having used cannabis in the past year.
  • Compared to the last survey results, cannabis use among adults aged 25 and older increased, but use among youth and young adults remained unchanged.
  • 78% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported consuming an alcoholic beverage in the past year, unchanged from 2015 (77%).
  • 22% of Canadians aged 15 and older indicated that they had used a psychoactive pharmaceutical in the past year, and among those, 5% reported problematic use of such a drug.
  • Of the three classes of psychoactive pharmaceuticals, opioid pain relievers were the most used. 12% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported having used such drugs in the past year, nearly unchanged from 2015 (13%). Of this 12%, 3% reported problematic use of these drugs.

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