Saskatchewan has a higher proportion of youth smokers than any other province, according to the latest Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey.

About 22 per cent of Saskatchewan people aged 15 to 19 are smokers compared to a national average of about eight per cent.

“These numbers are shocking and reveal the urgent need for interventions to prevent youth and teens from becoming addicted to smoking,” Donna Pasiechnik, health policy analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society in Saskatchewan, said in a news release.

“For nearly a decade we have been calling on the Saskatchewan government to update tobacco control laws to keep up with emerging issues such as flavoured tobacco products, e-cigarettes and smoke-free places – measures that most provinces have in place.

“The alarming number of teens smoking shows that this needs to be a priority for our government in Saskatchewan now.”

The survey asked about past-30-day use of several tobacco products including cigarettes (including menthol), cigars, little cigars or cigarillos, smokeless tobacco, water-pipe and pipes.

Manitoba’s rate is about 14 per cent, with Alberta at seven per cent. Ontario has the lowest rate, at 6.4 per cent.

Statistics Canada cautions that the figures for that age group have moderate sampling variability and should be interpreted with caution.

About 23 per cent of Saskatchewan people age 20 to 24 are smokers, the second highest rate in the country behind Newfoundland and Labrador’s rate of 24 per cent.

Saskatchewan fares a bit better when all ages are included. Overall about 18 per cent of Saskatchewan people smoke compared to about 15 per cent nationally.

About 44 per cent of Saskatchewan residents have used cannabis in their lifetimes with 12.5 per cent consuming in the past year. Both those figures are slightly below the national figures of 47 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively.

The survey is a biennial general population survey of tobacco, alcohol and drug use among Canadians aged 15 years and older conducted by Statistics Canada on behalf of Health Canada.