Cannabis use on the rise among Quebecers during lockdown, study says

Cannabis plants are seen at a facility in Sainte-Eustache, Que., Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Quebcers are using more cannabis during confinement and cigarette smokers are smoking more, according to a study released Tuesday from the Quebec Institute of Public Health (INSPQ).  

One-third (32 per cent) of cannabis users questioned by INSPQ researchers during April 16 to 28 reported that their consumption had increased "in the last week," compared to the period before the pandemic.

In contrast, 55 per cent reported that their use had remained the same and only 15 per cent reported that their use had decreased.

The most significant increase was among young adults between the ages of 18 and 34, where 39 per cent reported using more cannabis products.

For single people, 34 per cent reported consuming more cannabis, while those in a household with children reported a 31 per cent increase.

According to the INSPQ, 12 per cent of Quebec adults have used cannabis at least once in the month of April. The vast majority, 79 pe cent, said they use cannabis for recreational purposes, compared to 21 per cent who use it for medical purposes only

SMOKING ON THE RISE

In its new study, the INSPQ reports that living in the current public health crisis for more than a year can be a source of concern and cause stress, anxiety, isolation and then lead to an increase in the consumption of cannabis, tobacco, and alcohol.

Smokers also increased their cigarette consumption during the lockdown even though several analyses show that smokers who have been infected with COVID-19 are more at risk than non-smokers to suffer from complications.

In detail, 38 per cent of smokers reported that their cigarette consumption had increased in the past month compared to before the pandemic, compared to 46 per cent who did not change their habit and 16 per cent who decreased their consumption.

As with cannabis use, the increase was most significant among young adults, people between 18 and 34, where 49 per cent of smokers reported using more cannabis products.

According to Statistics Canada, just over 1.2 million Quebecers smoke cigarettes every day or occasionally. Smoking causes 13,000 deaths per year in Quebec.

ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION

The INSPQ report did not indicate whether more Quebecers are drinking alcohol since the beginning of the pandemic.

However, 40 per cent of adults participating in the INSPQ survey indicated that they had exceeded the maximum recommended number of drinks per week.

For women, the weekly limit for the reasonable number of drinks is 10, while for men it is 15.

The INSPQ has been surveying the lifestyle habits of Quebecers on the web since July 1, 2020, with 3,300 adults responding each week. This is a non-probability sampling whose margin of error cannot be calculated.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2021. 

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