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Number of smokers down in Ontario

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

According to a report from Public Health Ontario, Ontarians are butting out and fewer people are smoking.

The 2018 Ontario Tobacco Monitoring Report has shown the amount of people who smoke cigarettes has dropped from 21 per cent in 2003 to 15 per cent in 2017, according to a report from Dr. Robert Kyle, Durham Region’s commissioner and medical officer of health.

However, Kyle notes while overall smoking rates are down around Ontario, rates among some groups are higher than 20 per cent.

“The highest rates of cigarette smoking among adults were reported among those who used illicit drugs (including cannabis) in the past year; reported food insecurity; had a household income of less than $20,000; were unemployed; were Indigenous; or had a mood disorder,” he writes.

He also notes the highest rate of cigarette smoking among secondary school students were those who reported a problem with drugs or heavy alcohol consumption.

2017 also saw the use of e-cigarettes almost double among high school students as it jumped from 15 per cent in 2013 to 29 per cent. E-cigarette use was also significantly higher than the use of cigarettes at 24 per cent.

Kyle also makes note of how difficult it is for smokers to quit the habit.

“While a large proportion of smokers intend to quit, quitting is a major challenge for smokers. In 2017, only five per cent of past year smokers reported quitting for 30 days or longer,” he writes.

Kyle believes population-level policy and program incentives can, however, be used to help assist smokers in quitting, and also prevent youth and young adults from making the choice to begin smoking.