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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Tobacco & Vapour Products - The Facts


What is Tobacco?

  • Tobacco, a plant also known as Nicotiana tabacum, contains over 2,500 chemicals - one of them being Nicotine.1
  • When the tobacco plant is ripe the leaves are harvested, dried, fermented and aged. After this process is complete the leaves are ready to be used in tobacco products1,2, such as cigarettes, cigarillos/cigars, waterpipe, chew/snus.
  • Once a tobacco product is burned the chemicals found naturally in tobacco are transformed into more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke and at least 50 known to cancer.1
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The Tobacco Industry

The Tobacco Industry is always looking to create new tobacco products to entice youth to start using tobacco. Some of these products are regulated and permitted in Canada, while others are not. All tobacco products and tobacco exposure are harmful and can have negative health effects.

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  • Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death and illness in Canada and costs the province of Ontario $7.73 billion annually3
  • In the 20th Century approximately 100 million deaths were because of tobacco and almost half of current users will die as a result of tobacco related illness4
  • In Canada alone, every 10 minutes, 2 teenagers will start smoking cigarettes, and one of them will lose their life because of it5
  • In Middlesex-London 19% over the age of 12 are current daily or occasional smokers6; 26.1 % of current daily or occasional smokers are 20-34 years of age, with more males smoking than females7
  • In 2012, 11% of youth 15-19 in Canada smoke, with 7% being daily smokers and 4% smoking occasionally8
  • In 2012, 20% of young adults 20-24, reported smoking in Canada, with 13% of these smokers being daily users. Young adult males smoked more than females.8
  • 16% of the Canadian population aged 15 and up reported being a smoker in 2012; 12% are daily smokers, 4.3% smoke occasionally8; 18% of Canadian males smoke, compared to 14% of Canadian females8
  • According to the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, 10% of students in grades 7-12 reported using a Waterpipe (“Hookah”) in the past year, and 15% of students in grades 9-12 reported using an electronic cigarette at least once in their life9
  • The most common way youth obtain cigarettes is from a social source such as family or friends10,11
  • In 2010 /2011, 52% of Canadian youth reported using a flavoured tobacco product in the last 30 days12
Date of creation: February 28, 2013
Last modified on: October 11, 2022


1Health Canada. (2009). Tobacco: Behind the Smoke. Retrieved February 26, 2013 Retrieved from
2Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (2010). Do you Know… Tobacco. Retrieved February 26, 2013 Retrieved from
3Smoke-Free Ontario Scientific Advisory Committee. (2010). Evidence to Guide Action: Comprehensive Tobacco Control in Ontario. Toronto, Ontario: Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion. Retrieved from
4World Health Organization. (May 2012). Tobacco. Fact sheet N°339. Retrieved February 26, 2013 Retrieved from
5Health Canada. (2009). About Tobacco Control. Retrieved February 26, 2013 Retrieved from
6Statistics Canada. (2013). Health Behaviours: Current smoker, daily or occasional (%) by sex, 12 years and over, Middlesex-London Health Unit, Ontario and Ontario. Retrieved February 26, 2013 Retrieved from
7Statistics Canada. (2013). Health Behaviours: Current smoker, daily or occasional (%) by sex, 12 years and over, Middlesex-London Health Unit (Health Region), Ontario and Ontario. Retrieved January 20, 2014 Retrieved from
8Health Canada. (2013). Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS): Summary of Annual Results for 2012. Retrieved January 20, 2014 Retrieved from
9Boak, A., Hamilton, H. A., Adlaf, E. M., & Mann, R. E.. (2013). Drug use among Ontario students, 1977-2013: Detailed OHDUHS findings. (CAMH Research Document Series No. 36). Toronto, ON: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Retrieved January 20, 2014 Retrieved from
10Propel Centre for Population Health Impact. (May 2012). 2010/2011 Youth Smoking Survey: Results Profile for Ontario. Waterloo, ON: University of Waterloo, 1-21
11Reid JL, Hammond D, Burkhalter R, Rynard VL, Ahmed R. (2013). Tobacco Use in Canada: Patterns and Trends. Waterloo, ON: Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, University of Waterloo.
12Manske SR, Rynard V, Minaker L. (October 2013). Flavoured Tobacco Use among Canadian Youth: Evidence from Canada’s 2010/2011 Youth Smoking Survey. Waterloo: Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, 1‐2. Retrieved January 20, 2014 Retrieved from