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Estimation of smoking prevalence in Canada: Implications of survey characteristics in the CCHS and CTUMS/CTADS

Thierry Gagné


One of the main enterprises associated with tobacco control is surveillance, that is, to measure and follow over time the extent of smoking among the Canadian population. While surveillance systems have been in place for more than 50 years, knowing the exact prevalence of smoking in Canada continues to be a complex matter and understanding its estimation requires a critical appreciation of our national surveys’ idiosyncrasies. This commentary describes the two Statistics Canada surveys that are most commonly used to examine smoking prevalence in this country: the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) and the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CTADS). It compares estimates of smoking prevalence obtained from each source and examines potential reasons for their noticeable discrepancies. Canadian researchers interested in smoking prevalence should be aware of current and future limitations, and should discuss and analyze these accordingly.


Canada; surveys and questionnaires; epidemiology; smoking

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