Majority who experiment with cigarettes go on to become smokers, study finds

A single cigarette can trigger smoking addiction, says study

Majority who experiment with cigarettes go on to become smokers, study finds

The study also revealed that two-thirds of people who try cigarettes go on to become daily smokers, even if temporarily.

The team analysed data from the United Kingdom, the US, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

Of the respondents, 60.3% said they had tried a cigarette, with 68.9% of those admitting they had progressed to daily smoking.

Peter Hajek, lead author from Queen Mary University of London, said that this is the first time a link has been established using such large data between first trying a cigarette and becoming a regular smoker.

Most of the people who are now addicted to smoking are the ones who started off with "what harm could one cigarette do". The results of each survey were collated and used to calculate a conversion rate from ever trying a cigarette to ever smoking daily.

As different surveys used different methodologies, the 68.9% "conversion rate" has a 16% margin of error (60.9% to 76.9%).

The authors conclude: "The transition from trying the first cigarette through occasional to daily smoking usually implies that a recreational activity is turning into a compulsive need that has to be satisfied virtually continuously".

The study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, compiled data from eight surveys carried out between 2000 and 2016 and recorded in the Global Health Data Exchange.

"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", he said.

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.

For example, among the eight surveys, each revealed different percentages for those who became daily smokers, ranging from 52 percent in the U.S.to 82 percent in the United Kingdom, meaning the two-thirds estimate was a weighted average, not a standard proportion.

In 2016, 15.5% of adults from the United Kingdom smoked - about 7.6 million people - according to the Office for National Statistics, down from 19.9% in 2010.

He added: "Concerns were expressed that e-cigarettes could be as addictive as conventional cigarettes, but this has not been the case".

'The presence of nicotine is clearly not the whole story'.

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