It takes Canadians an average of 3.2 attempts to quit smoking. (Black Press File). It takes Canadians an average of 3.2 attempts to quit smoking. (Black Press file photo)

Third time and a bit is the charm when it comes to quitting smoking

Roughly five million Canadians smoked either daily or occasionally in 2017

Findings show it takes Canadians about 3.2 attempts before someone quits smoking.

This statistic appears in findings from the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey. But this figure comes with two provisos. First, the source of this figure is 10 years old, and second, it relies on the ability of smokers to remember past attempts to quit smoking.

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Canadians, according to the available literature, appear more successful in quitting than Americans. A 2006 Gallup survey found that former smokers had made an average of 6.1 quit attempts before quitting successfully. This figure, incidentally, matches recent findings from the Ontario Tobacco Survey, with the proviso that this research is at least 10 years old.

More recent figures from Statistics Canada show 16.2 per cent of Canadians aged 12 and older (roughly five million people) smoked either daily or occasionally in 2017. The proportion of Canadians aged 12 and older who smoked either daily or occasionally declined between 2015 and 2017, with 17.7 per cent smoking in 2015.

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Of the 5 million current smokers, the majority (3.6 million) smoked cigarettes daily. The majority of non-smokers were lifetime abstainers (46.7 per cent). Just over one in five Canadians (21.7 per cent) were non-smokers who used to be daily smokers. Statistics Canada does not say how many attempts this category of people needed to quit smoking.

Typically, men are more likely to smoke than women, and those who have not started smoking by age 20 are not likely to start in the future. In 2017, 60.7 per cent of those aged 20 to 24 had never smoked, and across all age groups, smoking was least common among youth aged 12 to 17.


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