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Canada Mapped

Canada’s drinkers, smokers and tokers

What are Canada's favourite vices? The answer will surprise you.
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Jordan Hale and Greg J. Smith, October 1, 2013 1:29:38 PM

While the end of summer might represent a moment when we are supposed to transition into more responsible task-focused individuals, some habits are year round enterprises. This week we’ve decided to dig into Health Canada data to determine our nation’s most popular vices. We’ve mapped provincial alcohol, nicotine and cannabis consumption statistics and we’ve made some interesting discoveries in the process. Here is what we found:

It makes sense to start with alcohol as it is Canada’s inebriant of choice, with a solid 78% of Canadians reporting they’ve had a drink within the last year. The provinces with the highest percentage of drinkers are Quebec and Alberta, where 81.7% and 80% of the population have raised a glass in the last twelve months. Interestingly, a lower percentage of citizens of the Maritime provinces appear to drink regularly: New Brunswick (73.3%), Nova Scotia (73.8%), and Newfoundland & Labrador (75.5%) all are less interested in drinking than the rest of the country.

Related: Are e-cigarettes safe to puff? 

Jumping over to nicotine consumption reveals some interesting regional patterns. 17.3% of Canadians are smokers and Quebec—once again—leads the vice charge with 19.8% of their population enjoying cigarettes regularly. The Prairies and the Maritimes are all up to 2% above the national average as well, with Ontario (16.3%) and British Columbia (14.2%) both having a lower percentage of smokers than the rest of the country.

Related: Mysterious person plants marijuana in public flower pots 

While you might be less likely to inhale second hand cigarette smoke in BC, it is hardly a surprise that another smokeable looms (or maybe wafts!) large on the west coast: 12.1% of BC residents have used cannabis in the last year, a full 3% above the national average. However, BC is not the bud champion of Canada as that distinction belongs to Nova Scotia, where 12.4% of the population smoke marijuana. Manitoba (10.4%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (10%) both have slightly higher usage rates than the rest of the country and Ontario (7.9%) and Alberta (8.8%) are the provinces with the lowest percentage of pot smokers.

Although we’re only talking about a window of +/- 5% in either direction from national averages there is undoubtedly some nuance to what Canadian’s province-to-province, vices of choice are.

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