In 1965, approximately half of Canadians smoked cigarettes. That number dropped to 13 per cent by 2015, according to a report on tobacco use in Canada from the University of Waterloo.
That 37 per cent drop over 50 years can likely be credited to a better public understanding about the harms of smoking cigarettes.
We are taught from an early age in Canadian public schools about what smoking cigarettes will do to you, and the warning labels on tobacco make its side effects clear.
In Canada today, 14 per cent of Canadians aged 15 and older reported some use of cannabis products, according to a report released by Statistics Canada in April 2018.
The study also asked Canadians if they thought the way they use cannabis would change once the drug is legalized for recreational use this summer. 79 per cent said they would not be more likely to try or increase their cannabis consumption.
After attending two public meetings regarding cannabis legalization, it sounds like some people think there will be a big spike in cannabis use once it is legalized.
I don’t think this is true – partly due to this Statistics Canada survey, but also because despite it being illegal to possess cannabis in Canada, it is not difficult to acquire it.
Those who want to use cannabis are already using it.
In fact, just like cigarettes, I think cannabis usage will drop once better research and public education come into effect after legalization.
I understand people are worried about the effects that even more accessible cannabis will have on Northern communities, but I think it is naive to think that those who want to use cannabis haven’t already been doing it for years.
Legalization will allow for better research into the side effects of cannabis use as I think cannabis users will be more comfortable sharing their experiences and habits.
With better research comes better information to educate the public.
I think better education will decrease cannabis use in Canada, just like it did with cigarettes.