B.C. leads country with lowest smoking rate

BC smoking stats

Ministry of Health

British Columbia has the lowest smoking rate in Canada for the 12th year in a row at 14.3 per cent, says the 2010 Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS).

B.C.’s overall smoking rate fell to 14.3 per cent in 2010 from 14.9 per cent in 2009, according to the CTUMS. Overall in Canada, smoking rates are 17 per cent. Ontario has the second-lowest rate at 15 per cent, with Saskatchewan the highest at 21 per cent.

Most positively, B.C.’s smoking rate for youth aged 15 to 19 years decreased from 13 per cent in 2009 to 8.9 per cent in 2010. This is the lowest rate achieved since 1999. The national rate is 12 per cent.

In addition, B.C.’s smoking rate for 25-to-44-year-old current smokers decreased from 21 per cent in 2009 to 16 percent in 2010. Similarly, the rate for daily smokers aged 25 to 44 went from 18.5 per cent in 2009 to 11 per cent.

Despite having the lowest rate in the country, smoking still causes significant illness and death in B.C. Each year, more than 6,000 British Columbians die from tobacco use. The cost to the B.C. economy is approximately $2.3 billion annually, including more than $605 million for direct health-care costs.

To help further reduce smoking rates in B.C., the Province has announced PharmaCare coverage of prescription smoking cessation drugs and 100 per cent coverage of eligible nicotine gum or patches for smokers who wish to quit. This program will begin Friday, Sept. 30 and more details will become available in the coming weeks.

In addition, through Healthy Families BC, the Province is reaching out to British Columbian families to provide comprehensive health and wellness advice and assistance, including with smoking cessation. This includes support through QuitNow Services.

QuitNow provides support to British Columbians who want to quit smoking 24 hours a day, free-of-charge by phone or online. For more information, call 1 877 455-2233 or visit: www.QuitNow.ca

Quick Facts:

* B.C. also has the lowest rate of children under 17 years of age regularly exposed to second-hand smoke in their homes, at 2.3 per cent – down from 2.5 per cent in 2009. Nationally, this rate is 6.2 per cent.

* Since 1999, smoking rates in B.C. have dropped steadily from a high of 20 per cent.

* Approximately 550,000 British Columbians smoke. An estimated 70 per cent of those want to quit.

* The number of current smokers in 2010 (551,408) is lower than 1999 (650,600). This is an important achievement since population has steadily grown over the years, but B.C. during the past 12 years continued to hold the number of current smokers (over 15 years of age) under 600,000.

* QuitNow Services offers British Columbians a confidential helpline (1-877 -455-2233) with information available in 130 languages and an online quit community where professionals and peer support is available 24 hours a day. Quitters are also able to sign up for email quit tips and text messages, join QuitNow’s Twitter and Facebook pages and explore interactive resources at: www.quitnow.ca