Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CTADS): summary of results for 2017

Table Of Content

Introduction

The Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CTADS) is a biennial general population survey of tobacco, alcohol and drug use among Canadians aged 15 years and older. CTADS is conducted by Statistics Canada on behalf of Health Canada.

Understanding Canadian trends in tobacco, alcohol and drug use is vital to the effective development, implementation and evaluation of national and provincial strategies, policies and programs.

The following summary presents findings based on the third biennial CTADS data collection, which commenced in February 2017 and ended in December 2017. The results for 2017 are based on telephone interviews with 16,349 respondents across all 10 provinces, representing a weighted total of 30.3 million Canadian residents aged 15 years and older. A set of detailed tables and some definitions used in this report are also provided.

All reported increases, decreases, and “differences” in the text below are statistically significant changes. The words “statistically significant” will not be used so as to allow for more readable text. “Unchanged” refers to differences that are not statistically significant.

One of the key factors affecting tests for statistical significance is the size of the sample or subgroup. This means that for smaller subgroups such as youth (aged 15-19 years) or young adults (aged 20-24 years), the difference needed for statistical significance is much larger than the difference needed in a larger sample such as adults (aged 25 years and older) or the Canadian population (aged 15+ years).

It should be noted that where numbers of individuals are provided along with prevalence, these numbers are estimates.

Tobacco Products and E-cigarette Use

Current Cigarette Smoking

The prevalence of current cigarette smoking in 2017 was 15% (4.6 million smokers), an increase from 13% (3.9 million smokers) in 2015. A higher percentage of males (17% or 2.5 million) than females (13% or 2.1 million) were current smokers. Eleven percent (11% or 3.3 million) of Canadians reported smoking daily and 4% (1.3 million) reported smoking occasionally. Daily smokers smoked an average of 13.7 cigarettes per day, unchanged from 2015 (13.8). Male daily smokers smoked an average of 14.9 cigarettes per day compared to 12.1 cigarettes per day for female daily smokers.

Youth Cigarette Smoking (Aged 15-19 Years)

In 2017, the prevalence of current cigarette smoking among youth aged 15 to 19 was 8% (159,000), unchanged from 2015 (10%). The prevalence of current smoking for male youth was 10%, higher than for female youth at 6%. Three percent (3%) of youth reported smoking daily while 5% reported smoking occasionally. Youth who reported smoking daily smoked an average of 9.4 cigarettes per day, unchanged from 2015. There was no difference in the average number of cigarettes smoked per day by male and female youth daily smokers.

Young Adult Cigarette Smoking (Aged 20-24 Years)

The prevalence of current cigarette smoking among young adults aged 20 to 24 was 16% (387,000) in 2017, unchanged from 2015 (18%). The prevalence of current smoking for young adult males was 20%, higher than for females in this age group at 11%.

The prevalence of daily smoking among young adults was 9%, while 7% smoked occasionally. Daily smoking among males (11%) was higher than among females (7%). Young adults who reported smoking daily smoked an average of 10.7 cigarettes per day, unchanged from 2015. Young adult males who reported smoking daily smoked an average of 12.1 cigarettes per day, higher than for young adult females (8.2).

Adult Cigarette Smoking (Aged 25 Years and Older)

The prevalence of current cigarette smoking among Canadian adults aged 25 years and older was 16% (4.0 million), an increase from 13% (3.2 million) reported in 2015. There was no difference in the prevalence of current smoking between males (17%) and females (14%).

There was an increase in the prevalence of daily smoking among adults to 12% (3.0 million) in 2017, from 10% in 2015, while occasional smoking was unchanged at 4%. There was no difference in the prevalence of daily smoking between adult males (13%) and adult females (11%). The prevalence of daily smoking among adult males (13%) was unchanged from 2015 (11%), there was an increase among adult females (11%) from 2015 (8%).

Adults who reported smoking daily smoked an average of 13.9 cigarettes per day, unchanged from 2015. Adult males who reported smoking daily smoked an average of 15.3 cigarettes per day, higher than adult females (12.4).

Use of Any Tobacco Product

The survey asked about past-30-day use of a number of tobacco products including: cigarettes (including menthol), cigars, little cigars or cigarillos, smokeless tobacco, water-pipe and pipes.

In 2017, 18% (5.3 million) of Canadians aged 15 years and older reported using at least one tobacco product in the past 30 days, higher than the 15% (4.6 million) reported in 2015. The prevalence of past-30-day use of at least one tobacco product was 9% (185,000) among youth aged 15 to 19, a decrease from 13% in 2015. Twenty-one percent (21% or 497,000) of young adults aged 20 to 24 reported use of at least one tobacco product in the past 30 days, unchanged from 2015 (24%). Among adults aged 25 years and older, the prevalence of past-30-day use of at least one tobacco product was 18% (4.6 million), an increase from 15% in 2015. Past-30-day use of at least one tobacco product was higher among males (21% or 3.1 million) than females (14% or 2.2 million).

Menthol CigarettesFootnote 1

Among Canadians aged 15 years and older, 1% (434,000) reported smoking menthol cigarettes in the past 30 days, unchanged from 2015 (2% or 476,000). Also unchanged from 2015 were past-30-day use of menthol cigarettes among youth aged 15 to 19 (1% or 18,000) and adults 25 years and older (1% or 375,000). Prevalence of past-30-day use of menthol cigarettes decreased to 2% (41,000) among young adults aged 20 to 24, from 4% in 2015. There was no difference in the prevalence of past-30-day use of menthol cigarettes between males and females.

Among Canadians aged 15 years and older who reported smoking menthol cigarettes in the past 30 days, almost one-third (29% or 126,000) reported that their usual brand of cigarettes was menthol.

Cigars

In 2017, 2% (577,000) of Canadians aged 15 years and older reported smoking any type of cigar Footnote 22 in the past 30 days, unchanged from 2015 (2%). The prevalence of past-30-day use of any type of cigar was 3% (55,000) among youth aged 15 to 19, 5% (119,000) among young adults aged 20 to 24 and 2% (403,000) among adults aged 25 years and older; all unchanged from 2015.

In 2017, 1% (414,000) of Canadians aged 15 years and older reported smoking little cigars or cigarillos in the past 30 days, unchanged from 2015 (2%). Two percent  (2% or 45,000) of Canadian youth aged 15 to 19, 4% (89,000) of young adults aged 20 to 24 and 1% (280,000) of adults aged 25 years and older reported smoking a little cigar or cigarillo in the past 30 days; all unchanged from 2015.

Among youth aged 15 to 19 who smoked little cigars or cigarillos in the past 30 days, 61% (26,000) reported smoking a flavoured little cigar or cigarillo.

Water-pipe Tobacco

Past-30-day use of a water-pipe to smoke tobacco was reported by 1% (208,000) of Canadians aged 15 years and older, unchanged from 2015. One percent (1% or 30,000) of youth aged 15 to 19, and 3% (75,000) of young adults aged 20 to 24, reported using a water-pipe to smoke tobacco in the past 30 days, unchanged from 2015. The prevalence of past-30-day use of a water-pipe to smoke tobacco among adults aged 25 years and older was not reportable due to small sample size.

Smokeless Tobacco

In 2017, the prevalence of past-30-day smokeless tobacco use was 1% (225,000) for Canadians aged 15 years and older. Two percent (2%) of youth aged 15 to 19 and 1% of young adults aged 20 to 24 reported past-30-day use of smokeless tobacco. These results were unchanged from 2015. The prevalence of past-30-day use of smokeless tobacco among adults aged 25 years and older was not reportable due to small sample size.

Cigarette Sources

In 2017, current smokers were asked where they usually get their cigarettes. The majority (71%) reported buying them at a small grocery or corner store, unchanged from 2015. Fourteen percent (14%) of current smokers bought their cigarettes at a supermarket or at another kind of store, 7% were given their cigarettes by family, friends or others, 3% purchased their cigarettes on or from a First Nations Reserve and 1% bought them from friends or someone else they know; all unchanged from 2015.

Among youth who were too young to legally be sold cigarettes in their province of residence, 50% reported usually obtaining their cigarettes from a regular retail outlet, while 44% usually got them from a social source such as for free from a family member; both unchanged from 2015.

Nine percent (9% or 401,000) of current smokers aged 15 years and older reported purchasing cigarettes on a First Nations reserve in the past 6 months, unchanged from 2015. Eleven percent (11%) of youth smokers aged 15 to 19, 10% of young adult smokers aged 20 to 24 and 9% of adult smokers aged 25 years and older reported making such purchases.

Smoking Cessation

In 2017, 26% (7.8 million) of Canadians aged 15 years and older reported being former smokers. Six percent (6% or 462,000) of former smokers had quit less than one year ago (short-term quitters), while the remaining 94% (7.3 million) had quit for one year or more (long-term quitters); both unchanged from 2015.

Among daily cigarette smokers aged 15 years and older, 44% (1.4 million) had made at least one quit attempt lasting 24 hours in the past year, unchanged from 2015. More than 1 in 4 daily smokers (28%) tried to quit on two or more separate occasions, also unchanged from 2015.

Daily smokers were asked if they were considering quitting, and 57% (1.8 million) reported they were considering quitting in the next 6 months, unchanged from 2015. Among this group, 35% (597,000) were considering quitting in the next 30 days, also unchanged from 2015.

Electronic Cigarettes

In 2017, 15% (4.6 million) of Canadians aged 15 years and older had ever tried an e-cigarette, an increase from 13% (3.9 million) in 2015. Twenty-three percent (23% or 460,000) of youth aged 15 to 19, and 29% (704,000) of young adults aged 20 to 24, had ever tried an e-cigarette, both unchanged from 2015. Thirteen percent (13% or 3.5 million) of adults aged 25 years and older had ever tried an e-cigarette, an increase from 2015 (11%). Nineteen percent (19% or 2.2 million) of males had ever tried an e-cigarette, which was higher than females (12% or 1.8 million).

Past-30-day use of e-cigarettes was reported by 3% (863,000) of Canadians aged 15 years and older, unchanged from 2015. Six percent (6% or 127,000) of youth aged 15 to 19, 6% (145,000) of young adults aged 20 to 24 and 2% (590,000) of adults aged 25 years and older had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days; all unchanged from 2015.

Among past-30-day e-cigarette users, 65% (557,000) were current smokers, 20% (173,000) were former smokers and 15% (133,000) were never smokers. Of these never smokers, 58% (77,000) were youth aged 15 to 19 and 33% (45,000) were young adults aged 20 to 24. The prevalence of past-30-day e-cigarette use among adult never smokers aged 25 years and older was not reportable due to small sample size.

Among Canadians aged 15 years and older who had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days, 43% reported using a fruit flavour the last time they used an e-cigarette, 22% tobacco flavour and 14% candy/dessert. Most youth aged 15 to 19 (69%) and young adults aged 20 to 24 (62%) reported using a fruit flavour, while among adults aged 25 years and older, 33% reported using a fruit flavour and 29% reported using tobacco flavour.

Among Canadians who had ever tried an e-cigarette, 64% (3.0 million) reported that the last e-cigarette they used contained nicotine, 24% (1.1 million) reported using an e-cigarette that did not contain nicotine, and 12% (546,000) were uncertain.

Thirty-two percent (32% or 1.1 million) of current or former smokers reported using e-cigarettes as a cessation aid in the past two years. CTADS did not include questions about the success of smoking cessation attempts using e-cigarettes.

E-cigarette Sources and Reasons for Use

Almost half (49% or 2.2 million) of those who ever tried an e-cigarette reported that they borrowed, shared or bought them from a friend or relative. Twenty-three percent (23% or 1.0 million) bought them from a vape shop or vapour lounge and 12% (546,000) from a convenience store or gas station.

Among past-30-day e-cigarette users, the most commonly reported reasons for using e-cigarettes were because e-cigarettes help people to quit smoking cigarettes (69%), e-cigarettes might be less harmful than smoking cigarettes (58%) and e-cigarettes may be less harmful than cigarettes to people around them (56%). Respondents could provide more than one answer.

Perceived Risk of Harm of Cigarettes and E-cigarettes

Canadians were asked how much they think people risk harming themselves when they smoke cigarettes or use an e-cigarette.

Smoking cigarettes once in a while was perceived to be a “moderate risk” or “great risk” by most Canadians (64%). The majority (85%) thought there was “great risk” of harm from smoking cigarettes on a regular basis.
Almost half (48%) of Canadians perceived using an e-cigarette once in a while to be a “moderate risk” or “great risk”.  Using an e-cigarette on a regular basis was thought to pose “moderate risk” or “great risk” of harm by 65% of Canadians. Almost one in four Canadians were unaware how much a person risked harming themselves by using an e-cigarette once in a while (23%), or on a regular basis (24%).

Provinces

Provincial prevalence of current smoking for those aged 15 years and older ranged from a low of 12% in Prince Edward Island to a high of 20% in Newfoundland and Labrador. Average cigarettes smoked per day among daily smokers ranged from a low of 12.7 cigarettes per day in Ontario to a high of 18.6 in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Past-30-day use of at least one tobacco product (cigarettes, cigars, little cigars or cigarillos, smokeless tobacco, water-pipe and pipe) ranged from a low of 16% in Ontario and Prince Edward Island to a high of 22% in Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan.

Past-30-day use of e-cigarettes ranged from a low of 2% in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario to a high of 6% in New Brunswick.

Drug Use

The survey asked about past-year use of illegal drugs including cannabis, cocaine or crack, ecstasy, speed or methamphetamines, hallucinogens and heroin.

The prevalence of past-year use of at least one of six illegal drugs was 15% (4.5 million), an increase from 13% (3.7 million) in 2015. This increase was due to an increase in use of cannabis and cocaine between the two survey cycles.

Overall, the prevalence of past-year illegal drug use was higher among males (19% or 2.8 million) than females (11% or 1.7 million). Past-year use of at least one of these six illegal drugs was also higher among youth aged 15 to 19 (20% or 396,000) and young adults aged 20 to 24 (35% or 816,000) than among adults aged 25 years and older (13% or 3.3 million).

Cannabis Use

Cannabis was the most prevalently used illegal drug.

In 2017, the prevalence of past-year cannabis use was 15% (4.4 million), an increase compared to 2015 (12% or 3.6 million), and compared to 2013 (3.1 million). In 2017, past-year cannabis use was more prevalent among males (19% or 2.7 million) than females (11% or 1.7 million), which is consistent with previous cycles. The prevalence of past-year cannabis use among males increased from 2015 (15%), whereas for past-year cannabis use there was no change among females.

Past-year use of cannabis was more prevalent among youth aged 15 to 19 (19% or 390,000) and young adults aged 20 to 24 (33% or 780,000) than among adults aged 25 years and older (13% or 3.2 million).  Past-year use of cannabis among adults aged 25 years and older increased from 2015 (10%), whereas there was no change among youth aged 15 to 19 and young adults aged 20 to 24. The mean age of initiating use of cannabis was 18 years old for males, unchanged from 2015; and 19 years old for females, up from 18 years old in 2015.

Among people who have used cannabis in the past year, 37% (or 1.6 million) reported using it for medical purposes, an increase from 24% (831,000) in 2015. The survey does not collect information on how people obtained the cannabis for medical purposes.

Of the methods used to consume cannabis in the past 12 months, smoking was the most common. Ninety-one percent (91% or 4 million) of those who used cannabis in the past year smoked cannabis.  Other common methods of consumption include mixing cannabis with tobacco (22% or 942,000), chasing (smoking a tobacco product right after smoking cannabis – 34% or 1.5 million), consuming cannabis in edibles (brownies, etc. – 38% or 1.6 million), and vaporizing (29% or 1.3 million). Those who reported using cannabis may have tried more than one method over the past 12 months.

The majority (75% or 3.3 million) of those who reported using cannabis in the past year reported using cannabis in the past 3 months, an increase from 2015 (72% or 2.6 million). Of those who had used cannabis in the past 3 months, many reported consuming cannabis on a daily or almost daily basis (32% or 1 million, unchanged from 33% or 840,000 in 2015).

Provincial prevalence of past-year cannabis use ranged from 11% (750,000) in Quebec to 23% (940,000) in British Columbia.

Other Illegal Drug Use

Respondents were asked about past-year use of illegal drugs including cocaine or crack, ecstasy, speed or methamphetamines, hallucinogens and heroin. This section excludes cannabis.

Past-year use of at least one of five illegal drugs was 3% (987,000), an increase from 2% (678,000) compared to 2015, and 2% (458,000) compared to 2013. This increase is associated with an increase in the use of cocaine, compared to 2015 and 2013.

Overall, prevalence of past-year use of these illegal drugs was higher among males (5% or 719,000) than females (2% or 268,000). There was an increase in past-year use of illegal drugs for both males and females, compared to 2015 (5% vs. 3% and 2% vs. 1% respectively).

Past-year use of at least one of five illegal drugs was higher among youth aged 15 to 19 (4% or 81,000) and young adults aged 20 to 24 (10% or 241,000) than among adults aged 25 and older (3% or 665,000).

While past-year illegal drug use remained low, there was an increase in the prevalence of use of cocaine; 2% (730,000) of Canadians reported using cocaine, an increase from 1% (353,000) compared to 2015, and 1% (259,000) compared to 2013. Cocaine use among adults aged 25 and older was 2% in 2017, an increase from 1% in 2015, and 1% in 2013. There was no change in the prevalence of use of hallucinogens (1% or 443,000), or ecstasy (1% or 271,000). The prevalence of heroin, speed/methamphetamine or salvia use was not reportable due to small sample size.

Past-year use was more prevalent among males than females for cocaine (4% males vs. 1% females) and hallucinogens (2% males vs. 1% females).

Use and Problematic Use of Psychoactive Pharmaceutical Drugs

CTADS includes questions relating to the use and problematic use of three classes of psychoactive pharmaceutical drugs: opioid pain relievers, stimulants (such as medication prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and tranquillizers and sedatives. While these drugs are prescribed for therapeutic purposes, they have the potential to be used in a problematic manner due to their psychoactive properties.

Among respondents who had reported using psychoactive pharmaceuticals, further questions were asked to determine whether the drugs were used for reasons other than for prescribed therapeutic purposes including use for the experience, for the feeling they caused, to get high, to feel better (improve mood) or to cope with stress or problems. In the text below, such non-therapeutic use will be referred to as problematic use.

The overall prevalence of psychoactive pharmaceutical use among Canadians aged 15 years and older was 22% (6.5 million), unchanged from 2015 (22% or 6.2 million). The prevalence of past-year psychoactive pharmaceutical use in 2017 was higher among females (24% or 3.6 million) than males (20% or 2.9 million). The prevalence of use was lower among youth aged 15 to 19 (17% or 332,000) than young adults aged 20 to 24 (21% or 492,000) and adults aged 25 years and older (23% or 5.7 million). The prevalence of psychoactive pharmaceutical use for males and females was unchanged from 2015 (18% or 2.6 million males and 25% or 3.6 million females). The prevalence of use for each age category was unchanged from 2015: 15% (311,000) of youth aged 15 to 19; 19% (455,000) of young adults aged 20 to 24; and 22% (5.5 million) of adults aged 25 and older.

In 2017, of those who reported having used psychoactive pharmaceuticals in the past year, 5% (302,000) engaged in problematic use of such a drug (i.e., used it for the experience, for the feeling it caused, to get high or for “other” reasons). The prevalence of past-year problematic use among those who used psychoactive pharmaceuticals in 2017 was not reportable for females and adults aged 25 years and older due to small sample size. One percent (1% or 336,000) of the population aged 15 and older engaged in problematic use of psychoactive pharmaceuticals in the past year, an increase from 2015 (0.6% or 173,000)Footnote 3.

Opioid Pain Relievers

Of the three classes of psychoactive pharmaceuticals, opioid pain relievers were the most used with 12% (3.5 million) of Canadians aged 15 years and older reporting having used such a drug in the past year, unchanged from 2015 (13% or 3.8 million). There was no difference in the prevalence of past-year opioid pain reliever use between females (12% or 1.8 million) and males (11% or 1.6 million) and both were unchanged from 2015 (14% or 2 million and 12% or 1.7 million, respectively).

Among the 12% of Canadians who used opioid pain relievers in the past year, 3% (100,000) reported problematic use of them. Among all Canadians aged 15 and older, the prevalence of problematic use of opioids was not reportable due to small sample size. The prevalence of problematic use of opioids was also not reportable for females, for young adults aged 20 to 24 and for adults aged 25 years and older in the overall population due to small sample size.

Stimulants

Stimulants are defined as products that can be obtained from a doctor such as Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, Dexedrine or others, and that are prescribed by doctors to help people who have attention or concentration problems (such as ADHD).

In 2017, 2% (714,000) of Canadians aged 15 years and older reported having used a stimulant in the past year, an increase from 2015 (1% or 338,000), and from 1% (256,000) in 2013. There was no difference between males and females (3% or 418,000 and 2% or 296,000, respectively). Past-year use of stimulants was higher among youth aged 15 to 19 (5% or 108,000) and young adults aged 20 to 24 (6% or 128,000) than among adults aged 25 years and older (2% or 478,000).

Of those who reported past-year stimulant use, 19% (103,000) reported problematic use of such a drug, representing less than one percent (0.3%) of Canadians aged 15 years and older. Problematic use of stimulants among males was higher than females (0.6% or 81,000 vs. 0.1% or 21,000 respectively)Footnote 4. The prevalence of problematic use of stimulants among those who used stimulants in the past year was 18% (19,000) for youth aged 15 to 19 and 41% (43,000) for young adults aged 20 to 24. These are unchanged from 2015 for youth aged 15 to 19 (22% or 20,000) and young adults aged 20 to 24 (41% or 37,000). The prevalence for adults aged 25 and older was not reportable due to small sample size.

Sedatives

In 2017, 12% (3.5 million) of Canadians aged 15 years and older reported past-year use of sedatives, unchanged from 2015 (11% or 3.1 million). The prevalence of such reported use by females (14% or 2.1 million) was higher than that of males (9% or 1.3 million) and both were unchanged from 2015 (14% or 2 million and 7% or 176,000, respectively). Past-year use of sedatives was higher among adults aged 25 years and older (13% or 3.2 million) than youth aged 15 to 19 (5% or 101,000) and young adults aged 20 to 24 (8% or 176,000).

In 2017, of those who reported past-year use of sedatives, 1% (49,000) reported using sedatives to get high. This is less than one percent (0.2%) of the population aged 15 and older and unchanged from 2015 (0.3%). The prevalence of reported having used sedatives to get high among females and adults aged 25 years and older was not reportable due to small sample size. Among those who reported having used sedatives, youth aged 15 to 19 reported the highest prevalence of sedative use to get high (15% or 15,000), followed by young adults aged 20 to 24 (11% or 19,000).

Harms Related to Illegal Drug Use

Respondents were asked if there ever was a time that they felt their illegal drug use had a harmful effect on one of eight factors: physical health, friendships and social life, financial position, home life or marriage, work, studies, or employment opportunities, legal problems, difficulty learning or housing problems.

Overall, 4% (820,000) of Canadians aged 15 years and older reported experiencing at least one harm in the past year due to their illegal drug use, an increase from 2015 (3% or 819,000). The prevalence of reported harm as a result of one's own illegal drug use was higher among males (6% or 518,000) than females (3% or 302,000), both higher than 2015 (4% or 540,000 and 2% or 278,000, respectively). A higher proportion of youth aged 15 to 19 (5% or 100,000) and young adults aged 20 to 24 (10% or 192,000) reported harm due to their own illegal drug use than adults aged 25 years and older (3% or 527,000). The prevalence among adults aged 25 years and older was an increase from 2015 (2% or 498,000).

The prevalence of reported harm was higher among individuals who reported both the use of an illegal drug and the problematic use of a psychoactive pharmaceutical. Eighteen percent (18% or 820,000) of those who used illegal drugs in the past year and who reported problematic use of psychoactive pharmaceuticals in the past year reported having experienced some harm in the past year due to their drug use. There was increase in the prevalence of reported past-year harm among females who had used illegal drugs and had engaged in problematic use of psychoactive pharmaceuticals in the past year (18% or 302,000 in 2017 vs. 11% or 164,000 in 2015).

Alcohol

The survey asked about alcohol use, including questions examining the quantity of alcohol consumed.

Prevalence of Alcohol Use

In 2017, 78% (23.3 million) of Canadians reported consuming an alcoholic beverage in the past year, unchanged from 2015 (77% or 22.7 million). There was no difference in the prevalence of past-year alcohol use between males and females (79% or 11.6 million and 77% or 11.6 million, respectively). There was an increase in past-year alcohol use among females compared to 2015 (73% or 10.9 million). The prevalence of alcohol use among young adults aged 20 to 24 (83%) was higher than among youth aged 15 to 19 (57%) and adults aged 25 years and older (79%). The prevalence of alcohol use for each age category (i.e., youth aged 15 to 19, young adults aged 20 to 24, and adults 25 years and older) was unchanged from 2015.

Provincial prevalence of alcohol use in the past year ranged from 68% (85,000) in Prince Edward Island to 84% (5.8 million) in Quebec. For all provinces, the prevalence of alcohol use remains unchanged compared to 2015.

Low-Risk Alcohol Use

Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking GuidelinesFootnote 55 (LRDG) consists of five guidelines and a series of tips. Guidelines 1 and 2, and acute and chronic effects are explained in the definitions. People who drank within the low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines consume no more than the recommended quantity of alcohol within the number of days specified, whereas those who exceed the guidelines consume more alcohol than recommended within the stated timeframe. The basis of the LRDG is reported alcohol consumption in the 7 days prior to the survey.

Among Canadians who consumed alcohol in the past year, 21% (representing 16% of the population aged 15 years and older or 4.7 million) exceeded guideline 1 for chronic effects and 15% (representing 11% of the population aged 15 years and older or 3.3 million) exceeded guideline 2 for acute effects. A higher percentage of males than females drank in patterns that exceeded both guidelines. The chronic-risk guideline was exceeded by 22% (2.5 million) of males who drank and 19% (2.1 million) of females who drank, while the acute-risk guideline was exceeded by 17% (1.9 million) of males who drank and 13% (or 1.5 million) of females who drank.

Young adults aged 20 to 24 had riskier patterns of alcohol consumption, compared to youth aged 15 to 19 and adults aged 25 years and older. Twenty-nine percent (29% or 552,000) of young adults who drank exceeded the guideline for chronic risk. In comparison, 18% (203,000) of youth who drank and 20% (3.9 million) of adults who drank exceeded this guideline. The acute-risk guideline was exceeded by 24% (450,000) of young adults who drank compared to 12% (130,000) of youth who drank and 14% (2.7 million) of adults who drank.

The prevalences for risky alcohol consumption are unchanged from 2015.

Reference information

Statistics Canada conducts CTADS on behalf of Health Canada. The target population for CTADS is all persons 15 years of age and older living in Canada, excluding residents of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut and full-time residents of institutions.

A sample of about 16,000 respondents (the approximate sample size for a full year of data) consists of about 10,000 individuals aged 15 to 24, and 6,000 individuals aged 25 years and older across Canada.

CTADS is telephone based and the sample was generated using the Household Survey Frame Service. The advantage of this frame is the inclusion of cell phones. The household response rate was 50.7% and the person response rate was 70.4%, resulting in an overall response rate of 35.7% for the 2017 cycle of CTADS. For the purposes of this report only univariate and bivariate analyses were conducted, with a t-test used to determine if results are statistically significantly different from one another. The data presented in this report have been weighted to allow the results to be generalized to the Canadian population using the Canadian Census 2011.

For more information about the survey and tobacco results, please write to the Office of Research and Surveillance, Tobacco Control Directorate, Health Canada, Address Locator 0301A, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0K9, or send an e-mail request to hc.ctads.questions-ectad.sc@canada.ca.

For more information about the survey and the drug and alcohol results, please write to the Office of Drug Research and Surveillance, Controlled Substances Directorate, Health Canada, Address Locator 0302A, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0K9, or send an e-mail request to hc.odss-bssd.sc@canada.ca.

For information on the public-use microdata file, please contact Statistics Canada's Client Services, Special Surveys Division by e-mail (de-ssd-clientservices@canada.ca), or by calling the toll-free telephone number (1-800-461-9050).

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Effective October 2, 2017, the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, blunt wraps and most cigars containing menthol were prohibited in Canada.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

“Any type of cigar” includes respondents who answered yes to one or both of these questions “In the past 30 days, did you smoke any little cigars or cigarillos?” and “In the past 30 days, did you smoke any cigars (not including little cigars or cigarillos)?”

Return to footnote 2 referrer

Footnote 3

Percentages for past year problematic use of psychoactive pharmaceuticals were not rounded to the nearest percent so that readers can notice the change between the 2015 and the 2017 cycles.

Return to footnote 3 referrer

Footnote 4

Percentages for past year use of stimulants were not rounded to the nearest percent so that readers can notice the difference between males and females.

Return to footnote 4 referrer

Footnote 5

Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines [brochure], 2017. Accessed August 28, 2018. http://ccsa.ca/Resource%20Library/2012-Canada-Low-Risk-Alcohol-Drinking-Guidelines-Brochure-en.pdf

Return to footnote 5 referrer

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