Prevalence of Cigarette Smoking Among Adult Emergency Department Patients in Canada

Sask-AT-Cigarette Smoking Prevalence

Saskatchewan (ED)

Introduction: Tobacco smoking is a priority public health concern, and a leading cause of death and disability globally. While the daily smoking prevalence in Canada is approximately 9.7%, the proportion of smokers among emergency department (ED) patients has been found to be significantly higher. The purpose of this survey study was to determine the smoking prevalence of adult ED patients presenting to three urban Canadian hospitals, and to determine whether there was an increased prevalence compared to the general public.


Methods: A verbal questionnaire was administered to adult patients aged 18 years and older presenting to Royal University Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital, and Saskatoon City Hospital in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. We compared patients’ smoking habits to Fagerström tobacco dependence scores, readiness to quit smoking, chief complaints, Canadian Triage Acuity Scale scores, and willingness to partake in ED-specific cessation interventions.


Results: A total of 1190 eligible patients were approached, and 1078 completed the questionnaire. Adult Saskatoon ED patients demonstrated a cigarette smoking prevalence of 19.6%, which is significantly higher than the adult Saskatchewan public at 14.65% (P<0.0001). Out of the smoking cohort, 51.4% indicated they wanted to quit smoking and would partake in ED-specific cessation counselling, if available. Of the proposed interventions, ED cessation counselling was most popular among patients (62.4%), followed by receiving a pamphlet (56.2%), and referral to a smokers’ quit line (49.5%).


Conclusion: The higher smoking prevalence demonstrated among ED patients highlights the need for a targeted intervention program that is feasible for the fast-paced ED environment. Training ED staff to conduct brief cessation counselling and referral to community supports for follow-up could provide an initial point of contact for smokers not otherwise receiving cessation assistance.


Authors: Andrew D. Tolmie, Rebecca Erker, Taofiq Oyedokun, Emily Sullivan, Thomas Graham,  James Stempien

Andrew D. Tolmie - andrew.tolmie@usask.ca

Preliminary data gathering/ baseline