Most People Who Try Cigarettes Once Become Habitual Smokers

A single cigarette can trigger smoking addiction, says study

Based on survey results from 4 different countries - including the United Kingdom - the findings highlight how addictive tobacco cigarettes are, and the importance of ensuring that stop smoking services are made available to help people quit.

The researchers from Queen Mary University of London found that roughly 61 percent of people develop a daily habit of smoking after trying their first cigarette.

"The finding provides strong support for the current efforts to reduce cigarette experimentation among adolescents", the new study's authors write. "Two-thirds of adult smokers started smoking for the first time when they were children".

The researchers analyzed eight surveys from the Global Health Data Exchange, which included questions on the first trial of a cigarette as well as daily smoking habits. We've found that the conversion rate from "first time smoker" to "daily smoker" is surprisingly high, which helps confirm the importance of preventing cigarette experimentation in the first place. In the United Kingdom, only 19 percent of 11 to 15 years olds reported having tried a cigarette, according to 2016 National Health Service, and in the USA, only eight percent of high school students reported having smoked in the past 30 days.




They found 60.3 per cent had tried a cigarette, of whom 68.9 per cent progressed to habitual smoking.

The study was concentrated on revealing just how addictive smoking can be, and how it can turn into a habit even for those people who only smoke occasionally or just once.

The different surveys used different methodologies and yielded different results, so the estimated 68.9 per cent "conversion rate" from experimentation to daily smoking has a margin of error (between 60.9 and 76.9 per cent).

Prof Hajek says some of that could also be down to the introduction of e-cigarettes. Individuals in the United Kingdom, for example, were particularly susceptible to becoming regular smokers after trying one cigarette, as more than 80 percent of respondents there who had smoked one cigarette reported taking up a daily habit. He also stated that this is the first time where the link between trying the first cigarette and becoming a regular smoker presented in a large data set. "The presence of nicotine is clearly not the whole story". Smoking rates were lowest in England (15.5%) and highest in Northern Ireland (18.1%).

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