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Results from Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey now include vaping

Screen Shot 2019-05-08 at 3.17.42 PMEight out of 10 Canadians who are vaping are vaping nicotine, according to a new survey from Statistics Canada.

The latest annual Canadian Tobacco and Nicotine Survey, published in March, aims to gather information about the prevalence of cigarette smoking, vaping and cannabis use.

For the first time ever, the survey included questions about vaping in an effort shed light on the types of products Canadians are using, how often they are vaping and their reasons for doing so. This report, the first to track detailed information about vaping in this country, defines it as the “act of inhaling and exhaling vapour produced by a device such as an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), vape mod, vaporizer or vape pen.”

The study recognized that “while some use these devices to curtail or to quit smoking,” it went on to point out “vaping can also have negative effects, particularly among youth.”

The report revealed that among those who had vaped in the 30 days preceding the survey, about 8 in ten indicated that they had vaped nicotine. This proportion was even higher among users aged 15 to 19 (87%) and those aged 20 to 24 (86%).

In addition, about one in 10 users aged 15 to 19 and aged 20 to 24 reported that they once tried a vaping device without knowing whether or not it contained nicotine.

Frequency of vaping also varied across age groups. Among users aged 15 to 19, 31% vaped on a daily basis, compared with 38% of those aged 20 to 24, and more than half of those aged 25 and older.

Other highlights:

  • In 2019, 15% of teenagers aged 15 to 19 reported having vaped in the 30 days preceding the survey, and over one-third (36%) reported having tried it at some point in their lives.
  • Among young adults aged 20 to 24, the proportion of those who had vaped in the 30 days preceding the survey was also 15%, and close to half (48%) said that they had tried it at some point.
  • In comparison, less than 3% of adults aged 25 and older reported using a vaping product in the 30 days preceding the survey, and 12% indicated that they had tried vaping at some point.
  • For both men and women, the proportion of those who used a vaping device in the 30 days preceding the survey was higher in younger age groups. In general, men are more likely than women to vape.

Reasons for vaping varied by age group and users were classified across the following categories: (1) those who just wanted to try; (2) those who reported enjoying it; (3) those who vaped to reduce stress; (4) those who vaped to reduce or quit smoking; and (5) those who mentioned other reasons.

Among users aged 15 to 19, the most common reasons were “because they wanted to try” (29%) and “because they enjoyed it” (29%). About one in five (21%) said that they vaped to reduce stress, while 9% said that they did so to quit or cut down on smoking.

Among those aged 20 to 24, the proportion who vaped because they wanted to quit or cut down on smoking was higher (28%). However, similar to their teenaged counterparts, more than one-quarter (27%) of users in this age group reported vaping just because they wanted to try it.

Among those aged 25 and older, by contrast, users were significantly more likely than younger users to report having vaped in an effort to reduce or quit smoking, with more than half of those aged 25 and older citing this as their main reason.

Perception of harm

Among those who had vaped in the 30 days preceding the survey:

  • 60% believed that vaping products were less harmful than cigarettes
  • 20% thought that they were similarly harmful
  • 9% felt they were more harmful, and 10% said that they did not know

Among those who had never vaped:

  • 13% perceived vaping as less harmful than cigarettes
  • 33% felt both were equally harmful
  • 23% thought that vaping was more harmful
  • 31% did not know