TORONTO -- A new report suggests fewer Canadians are smoking tobacco.

The Canadian Community Health Survey found 17.7 per cent of Canadians aged 12 and older -- or roughly 5.3 million people -- smoked either daily or occasionally in 2015, down slightly from 18.1 per cent a year earlier.

The proportion of Canadians who smoked daily or occasionally was higher among males at 20.4 per cent, compared to 15 per cent of females.

The Statistics Canada survey found the number of people who reported being daily smokers fell to 12.6 per cent in 2015, from 13.5 per cent the previous year.

Tobacco use was least common among youth aged 12 to 17, with about four per cent reporting they smoked in 2015, followed by adults 65 or older, at almost 10 per cent.

Males aged 20 to 34 made up the largest proportion of smokers, with more than one in four reporting tobacco use.

Smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic respiratory disease, and other health conditions.

"These decreases in smoking prevalence are encouraging, but an enormous amount of work remains to be done," said Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society.

Among the provinces, British Columbia had the lowest number of smokers at just under 14 per cent, while Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest rate of tobacco use at about 24 per cent.