Thursday 4 April 2024

Public Use Micro File of the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Survey (CSTADS) is now available

This post provides information on the release of the Public Use Micro File (PUMF) for the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug (CSTADS), 2020-2021.

CSTADS is a periodic survey funded by Health Canada on the substance use of Canadian middle and high school students. It has been conducted four times over the past decade - during the school years 2014-2015, 2015-2017, 2018-2019 and then 2021-22. The first 3 waves were conducted by the University of Waterloo, after which the work was was contracted to CCI research

The results of the 2021-22 wave - reported in an earlier blog post - were first made public in May, but were withdrawn from Health Canada's website soon afterwards for unspecified technical reasons. They were recently re-uploaded and updated

CSTADS (now CSADS) is the largest youth health survey in Canada. Information from more than 61,000 students in grades 7 to 12 was provided during class time from most parts of the country. (New Brunswick declined to participate in 3 of the waves, including the most recent one). 

Last week the data files for the 2020-2021 wave of the survey were made public on the federal Open Government Portal. These allow exploration of information not provided on the tables presented by Health Canada, and for more in-depth analysis. 

The charts shown below are derived from the PUMF file, but are presented without the benefit of statistical tests.


By the time they leave high school, almost 1 in 5 Canadian students use vaping products at least once a week (and 1 in 8 uses them every day).

Health Canada generally groups results into two age groups, but the PUMF file allows for a review of substance use in each grade. Because substance use progresses over time and because younger children are less likely to use substances, grouping produces underestimates of the drug use by students at the end of their school years. The PUMF file, however, allows this estimate to be shown. 

High school students living in rural areas are heavier vapers.

Most students surveyed (82%) were identified as attending a school in an urban area, using Statistics Canada's definitions. Proportionately more students in rural schools reported using e-cigarettes daily. 

According to this survey, although only one-fifth (18%) of students are in rural schools, one-third (34%) of youth who vape daily attend rural schools. Although a similar pattern was seen with respect to cigarette smoking, the very low rates of daily smoking (1.5% overall) make the presentation of data without statistical tests less appropriate. 

"White" and "Aboriginal" high schoolers are heavier vapers.

The survey asked students "How would you describe yourself?" The results were grouped into 8 categories: "white", "black", "West Asian/Arab", "South Asian/Indian", East/Southeast Asian (Chinese ...)", "Latin American/Hispanic", "Aboriginal (First Nations, M├ętis, Inuit..)" and "Another race/Multiple."

More than half (57%) of students identified themselves as "white", with no other ethnic category composing more than 7% of responses. Three percent of students identified themselves as aboriginal.  

"White" and "Aboriginal" students were disproportionately represented among those who vaped on a daily or weekly basis (70% and 5% respectively).  

Monday 1 April 2024

Tobacco taxes go up today .... by 15 cents per package

Federal tobacco taxes are subject to an annual inflation adjustment, which is implemented on April 1 of each year. The adjustment for 2024 brings the federal tax on a carton of cigarettes to $33.15 (or $0.17 per cigarette). The federal government also charges 5% GST on tobacco products

Each province also applies taxes to tobacco, and most also charge provincial sales tax. Because of provincial differences in tobacco taxation, the taxes on a package of cigarettes range by about $4.50 across the country. Most Canadians live in Quebec and Ontario, which have the lowest rates of taxation.

No Canadian jurisdiction imposes price controls on Canadian cigarettes, and manufacturers are allowed to set their wholesale prices at different amounts for different retailers. On the image below (and the downloadable data sheet), data is presented for the impact of taxation on a package of cigarettes which wholesales for $4.41 and for which the retail markup is set at 10% of the wholesale price and excise taxes.

Canada's tobacco taxes fall short of the World Health Organization recommendations

The WHO recommends that taxes make up 75% of the price of cigarettes. This standard will be met in some provinces for the least expensive brands, but overall the WHO considers that Canada falls well short of this mark. 

In the 2023 WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, tobacco taxes in Canada were estimated at 63.3% of the retail price (p. 136). More than 40 countries meet the the 75% "best practice" standard for taxation - including most Western European countries and Australia and New Zealand.