This is the first study to systematically track the tobacco use prevalence in an entire emergency department (ED) population and compare age-stratified rates to the general population using national, provincial, and regional comparisons. A tobacco use question was integrated into the ED electronic registration process from 2007 to 2010 in 11 northern hospitals (10 rural, 1 urban). Results showed that tobacco use documentation (85-89%) and tobacco use (26-27%) were consistent across years with the only discrepancy being higher tobacco prevalence in 2007 (32%) due to higher rates at the urban hospital. Age-stratified outcomes showed that tobacco use remained high up to 50 years old (36%); rates began to decrease for patients in their 50's (26%) and 60's (16%), and decreased substantially after age 70 (5%). The age-stratified ED tobacco rates were almost double those of the general population nationally and provincially for all but the oldest age groups but were virtually identical to regional rates. The tobacco use tracking and age-stratified general population comparisons in this study improves on previous attempts to document prevalence in the ED population, and at a more local level, provides a "big picture" overview that highlights the magnitude of the tobacco-use problem in these communities.