Place of birth and ethnic status: factors associated with smoking prevalence among Canadians

Health Rep. 1992;4(1):7-24.
[Article in English, French]


The prevalence of smoking is lower among foreign-born (16%) than among native-born Canadians (25%). In addition, foreign-born smokers smoke fewer cigarettes a day than the native-born. Foreign-born Canadians also tend to smoke cigarettes with a lower tar yield. The differences in the smoking behaviour of foreign-born and native-born Canadians suggest that the foreign-born may be at lower risk from smoking related morbidity and mortality. National smoking rates conceal wide variations in smoking prevalence by ethnic group. The highest smoking rates in Canada are found among Canadian Aboriginals. About 59% of Aboriginal Canadians smoke on a regular basis. In contrast, only 11% of Asian Canadians smoke regularly. These marked differences in smoking rates among ethnic groups are an argument for addressing the unique behaviour of each ethnic group within existing health promotion programs. Four out of ten smokers (42%) attempts to quit smoking during the course of a year. This percentage does not vary much by gender or by foreign-born/native-born status. The high percentage of smokers who attempt to quit during a year probably reflects the combined impacts of smoking prevention programs, increased taxation on cigarettes, and smoking restrictions on smoking in the workplace and in public settings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking Prevention