Newfoundland and Labrador has highest smoking rates in country

A new study reveals Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest proportion of smokers in Canada.

‘We have work to do, obviously.’
– Kevin Coady

The Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey reports 18.4 per cent of this province’s population aged 15 and older were still lighting up, compared to 13 per cent nationally.

That’s down slightly from the 19.5 per cent figure from a similar survey conducted in 2013.

“The bottom line is we have work to do, obviously,” says Kevin Coady, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance for Control of Tobacco.

“Short and sweet, it’s an addiction,” he said. “People need help.”

Nova Scotia is a close second at 17.8 per cent, while British Columbia had the lowest proportion of smokers with 10.2 per cent.

Butt out message crucial in schools

Coady said educating kids about the health implications of smoking is key.

“Getting into the schools, having it in the curriculum, getting the [anti-smoking] message to the young children in the hopes they never start,” he said.

Kevin Coady, executive director Alliance for the Control of Tobacco

Kevin Coady, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance for the Control of Tobacco, says the latest numbers for smoking rates in this province aren’t good. (CBC)

Making people pay can also help lower smoking rates.

“The evidence is there that when there is an increase in taxes, the percentage of people will find a way to quit, particularly young people who don’t have the money in the pocket,” said Coady.

Pushing plain packaging

Earlier this week, Premier Dwight Ball outlined in his government’s “vision document” that he wants to reduce this province’s smoking rate by four per cent.

Coady said it’s encouraging that the Newfoundland and Labrador government has committed to banning flavoured tobacco starting July 1, 2017, since it’s “very attractive to young people.”

But additional regulations, at a federal level, are needed, he said.


Kevin Coady says he hopes the federal government implements plain packagaing for cigarettes soon, similar to the packaging seen here that was adopted by Australia.

“A big move that’s coming soon, we hope through the feds, is the plain packaging where the graphic signs of sickness and death will be bigger and the packages will be less attractive.”

Coady said ultimately, quitting requires a lot of time and effort.

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