7.7.7 Percentage of Indigenous youth aged 15 to 24 years who are daily or occasional smokers, by Indigenous identity and gender, Canada, 2012

First Nations Métis Inuit
Male 30.5 30.8 56.7
Female 34.8 28.9 65.4

Note: Excludes persons living on Indian reserves or settlements.

Source: CICH graphic created using data adapted from Statistics Canada. Table 577-0007 – Aboriginal Peoples Survey, smoking status, by Aboriginal identity, age group and sex, population aged 15 years and over, Canada, provinces and territories, occasional.

In 2012, 57% of Inuit males aged 15 to 24 years were daily or occasional smokers, as were 65% of females in the same age group.

This compares to 31% of First Nations males and 35% of First Nations females; and 31% of Métis males and 29% of Métis females in this same age range.

Tobacco is considered sacred in many Indigenous cultures. However, recreational smoking is highly addictive and contributes to serious morbidity and preventable death. Smoking rates among Canadian Indigenous youth are at least three times higher than their non-Indigenous peers. There are a variety of approaches that can be used to support Indigenous youth to reduce or quit smoking. A holistic approach critical – one that addresses the psychosocial and socioeconomic factors that affect the lives of Indigenous youth such as the effects of colonialism, past trauma, mental health problems and other addictions, unemployment and housing – is critical. Co-morbid conditions that influence smoking need to be identified and treated. A Canada-wide environmental scan of tobacco cessation strategies for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples found a number of successful factors that were common to successful initiatives. These included programs that: were culturally relevant; engaged the local community and were community orientated and facilitated; were flexible, responsive and holistic; included facilitator training; highlighted traditional activities, knowledge and values; recognized contemporary lifestyles; showed a high degree of respect and trust in the individuals and groups involved; and created partnerships. The wisdom and influence of Elders is an important resource to any program.

Source: Jetty R., Canadian Paediatric Society, & First Nations, Inuit and Métis Health Committee. (2017). Tobacco use and misuse among Indigenous children and youth in Canada. Paediatric Child Health, 22(7), 395-399.