Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Canadian views on acceptability and risks of use of alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes and cannabis (and links to other consumer research commissioned by Health Canada: 2006-2021)

Which do Canadians think is more harmful? - Vaping cannabis or vaping nicotine? And which is more acceptable? Tobacco or e-cigarettes?

Answers to these questions are provided in the Canadian Cannabis Survey, which is conducted annually by Advanis on behalf of Health Canada. Since 2018, this survey has included questions related to the social acceptability and likelihood of harm associated with the use of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and nicotine.

This post presents results for these questions over the past 4 years. Tables and figures are available on a downloadable fact sheet. (Breakdown by age and region was not provided in the survey reports)

The full survey reports and data files are available on the website of Library and Archives Canada:

Social acceptability

Fewer than 2 in 3 Canadians think that the occasional use of cannabis or tobacco is socially acceptable, although more than 9 in 10 think occasional alcohol use is. With respect to regular use, the acceptance is predictably lower. Nonetheless, around one-third of Canadians consider it socially acceptable to use tobacco and e-cigarettes on a regular basis - with slightly more favourable views of regular cannabis use and a majority thinking that regular drinking is acceptable.

Question: How socially acceptable do you think it is for a person to use the following substances?

Risks of use

The views on the risks of harm associated with the use of these legal drugs reflects the same pattern, with more positive views towards alcohol use, and most negative views of tobacco and e-cigarettes, with cannabis falling in the middle.

Fewer than 1 in 5 Canadians thought that occasional alcohol use presented a great or moderate risk to the user, compared with almost 2 in 3 for tobacco and e-cigarettes, and around 4 in 10 for cannabis. Regular use for all products was seen as having greater risks: 9 in 10 Canadians perceive regular tobacco use as risky, 8 in 10 have that view of e-cigarettes, and around 7 in 10 perceive regular use of alcohol and cannabis as risky.

Question: How much do you think people risk harming themselves when they do each of the following activities?

Perceptions of users and non-users

Those who have used any of these substances in the past year are more likely to consider regular use acceptable, and with the potential exception of tobacco are less likely to consider it risky.

Data for the highest level of acceptability ("completely) and risk ("great") are shown below. Those who use tobacco or e-cigarettes are more than twice as likely to think they are completely accepted. The difference in perception of great risk is only slighlty different between users and non users for tobacco and e-cigarettes, compared with cannabis, where non-users are much more likely to perceive great risk in use.


Since 2006, all consumer research commissioned by the federal government is deposited in the Library and Archives of Canada. These documents can be searched through an index maintained at the following web-address:

Listed below, and hyperlinked, are the research reports commissioned by Health Canada which focused on vaping or tobacco use.


Prepared by


POR 113-20

Environics Research

Vapers online survey to measure attitudes and behaviours regarding vaping over time (2019 to 2021)[i]

POR 103-20

Earnscliffe Strategy Group

Smoking lived experience study[ii]

POR 061-20.

Earnscliffe Strategy Group.

Qualitative Research on Adult Smoking Cessation[iii]

POR 026-20.

Quorus Consulting Group

Qualitative Research Exploring Options for Warnings on Cigarettes – 2020[iv]

POR 024-20.

Strategic Council.

Understanding Youth and Young Adults’ Interest in, and Usage of, Flavoured Cannabis Vaping Products[v]

POR 020-20.

Earnscliffe Strategy Group

Youth and young adult vaping cessation research [vi]

POR 098-19

Environics Research Group

Vapers online survey to measure attitudes and behaviours regarding vaping over time (2019 to 2020)   [vii]


Quorus Consulting Group.

Exploratory Research on Youth Vaping [viii]

POR 048-19

Earnscliffe Strategy Group

Social values and psychographic segmentation of tobacco and nicotine users and non-users.  [ix]

POR 026-19

Narrative Research

Online qualitative testing of draft health warnings for cigars, pipe tobacco, smokeless tobacco and toxic statements for smokeless product packaging – 2019.[x]

POR 025-19

Quorus Consulting Group

Qualitative testing of new health information messages, including placement options, as well as the thematic linking of labelling elements – 2019 [xi]

POR 019-19

Phoenix SPI

Health Care Providers' Views and Experiences with Smoking Cessation and Alternative Nicotine Products [xii]

POR 014-19


Advertising evaluation of Youth Vaping Prevention Campaign - post ACET : methodological report.[xiii]

POR 141-18

Environics Research

Vapers’ Panel Survey to Measure Attitudes and Behaviours Regarding Vaping Products.[xiv]

POR 139-18

Phoenix Strategic Perspesctives

Spring 2019 Focus Groups (Third Cycle)[xv]

POR 126-18.

Corporate Research Associates Inc.

Qualitative Testing of Revised Health Warnings for Cigarette Packages and on Cigarettes: 2019 [xvi]

POR 119-18

Environics Research Group Limited

Smoking Behaviour Journey Map[xvii]

POR 093-18

Phoenix SPI

Smokers and Recent Quitters’ Awareness and Perceptions of Options to Minimize Harms from Tobacco Products[xviii]

POR 083-18


Vapers panel survey to measure attitudes and behaviours regarding vaping products [xix]

POR 067-18

Earnscliffe Strategy Group.

Qualitative and quantitative research on perceptions of nicotine [xx]

POR 058-18.

Environics Research Group

Public Opinion Research on Noticeability of Health Information Messages and Effectiveness of Health Warnings for Tobacco Labelling [xxi]

POR 054-18.

Phoenix SPI.

Exploratory research on smoking cessation   [xxii]

POR 037-18

Corporate Research Associates.

Vaping Prevention Concepts Testing [xxiii]

POR 014-18

Corporate Research Associates

Testing of relative risk statements for vaping products [xxiv]

POR 013-18

Phoenix SPI

Break It Off: Tobacco Cessation Creative Concepts Testing [xxv]

POR 099-17

Corporate Research Associates

Evaluation of possible labelling elements for vaping products - phase 1 and phase II   [xxvi]

POR 096-17

Phoenix Strategic Perspectives

Qualitative public opinion research of draft health information messages and toxic statements for cigarette packaging  [xxvii]

POR 074-17

Phoenix Strategic Perspectives Inc

Peer crowd analysis and segmentation for vaping and tobacco  [xxviii]

POR 047-17

Environics Research Group

Longitudinal vaper panel survey to measure attitudes and behaviours regarding vaping products[xxix]

POR 028-17

Phoenix Strategic Perspectives Inc

Qualitative testing of new health warnings and contact information taglines for cigarette packages - 2017  [xxx]

POR 088-16

Phoenix Strategic Perspectives Inc

Qualitative/quantiative research on E-cigarette flavours and risk perception  [xxxi]

POR 041-16

Environics Research Group

Qualitative and quantitative research on standardized cigarette design elements and cigarette packages  [xxxii]

POR 095-15.

Environics Research Associates

Youth Vaping Prevention Campaign – Testing New Messages[xxxiii]

POR 046-12


Evaluation of Canadian tobacco product health-related labels (cigarettes and little cigars) [xxxiv]

POR 041-12

Phoenix Strategic Perspectives Inc.

Tobacco cessation exploratory research with young adults (aged 20-24)   [xxxv]

POR 075-11

Environics Research Group.

2012 baseline evaluation of Canadian graphic health warning messages [xxxvi]

POR 118-08

Phoenix Strategic Perspectives Inc.

Testing the size, colour, and impact of contact information on tobacco product packaging  [xxxvii]

POR 109-08

Strategic Counsel

Health Canada performance survey 2009  [xxxviii]

POR 288-07

Ipsos Reid

Examining spillover and recall of tobacco industry advertising among Canadian youth[xxxix]

POR 254-07a

Les Études de Marché Créatec +

Quantitative study of Canadian youth smokers and vulnerable non-smokers effects of modified packaging through increasing the size of warnings on cigarette packages[xl]

POR 254-07b

Les Études de Marché Créatec +

Quantitative study of Canadian adult smokers : effects of modified packaging through increasing the size of warnings on cigarette packages[xli]

POR 245-07

Environics Research Group.

Consumer research on the size of health warning messages : quantitative study of Canadian youth : Adults[xlii] and Youth.[xliii]

POR 201-07

Environics Research Group

The health effects of tobacco and health warning messages on cigarette packages : survey of adults and adult smokers   [xliv]

POR 185-07

Phoenix Strategic Perspectives Inc

Qualitative testing of toxic emissions statements   [xlv]

POR 154-07

Decima Research

Testing of bilingual health warning notices for tobacco industry print advertising  [xlvi]

POR 111-07

Decima Research

Canadians' recall of tobacco industry advertising 2007-2009[xlvii]

POR 064-07

Decima Research

Testing of health warning messages and health information messages for tobacco products[xlviii]

POR 038-07

The Antima Group

Health Canada survey of priorities for children and youth  [xlix]

POR 487-06

Western Opinion Research

Canadians and indoor air quality [l]

POR 408-06

The Strategic Counsel

Health directors' perceptions of current tobacco control activities in First Nations communities  [li]

POR 392-06


Second hand smoke in multiple unit residential buildings [lii]

POR 373-06

Millward Brown

The persistent smoker in Canada  [liii]

POR 365-06

Environics Research Group.

Occasional smokers in Canada : a qualitative and quantitative study,  [liv]

POR 364-06

Phoenix Strategic Perspectives Inc.

Discount smokers in Ontario and Quebec : exploratory analysis,  [lv]

POR 328-06

Environics Research Group

Qualitative exploration of Canadian youth and tobacco retailer's views regarding the prohibition of tobacco sales to youth   [lvi]

POR 283-06


Pre and post evaluation of the 2006/07 second-hand smoke advertising campaign among smoking parents  [lvii]

POR 272-06

Decima Research

Canadians' recall of tobacco industry advertising and purchase patterns of cigarettes [lviii]

POR 259-06

Environics Research Group.

Testing of mock-ups of health warning messages and warning notices on tobacco product advertisements for smokeless tobacco   [lix]

POR 189-06

Études de marché CRÉATEC +

Survey of public health practitioners on the core competencies for public health   [lx]

POR 156-06

Decima Research

Second-hand smoke : testing of TV and print concepts[lxi]

POR 154-07

Decima Research

Testing of bilingual health warning notices for tobacco industry print advertising  [lxii]

POR 122-06

Corporate Research Associates Inc.

Manitoba follow-up survey on the tobacco retail environment, 2006 : report[lxiii]

POR 26-07

Strategic Counsel

Health and wellness priorities findings from qualitative research  [lxiv]

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