Health Care

More than 60% who try a cigarette become daily smokers, study says

More than 60% who try a cigarette become daily smokers, study says

Now new research has found that almost 70 percent of people who try a cigarette just once go on to develop a daily habit.

Scientists from Queen Mary University of London analysed data from more than 215,000 adults from the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Of the responses, just over 60% had ever tried a cigarette, and among those, nearly 69% reported that they had gone on to become daily smokers.

The researchers calculated that 60.3% of people across the surveys had tried smoking a cigarette at least once.

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.

"In the development of any addictive behaviour, the move from experimentation to daily practice is an important landmark, as it implies that a recreational activity is turning into a compulsive need". The research selected asked respondents whether they'd ever tried a cigarette and ever smoked daily.

They say that as the surveys used different methods, there was quite a wide margin of error and the "conversion" rate could be anywhere between 60.9% and 76.9%.

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The study authors said that this means cigarettes have a "remarkable hold" even after just one experience, and added that this confirmed the importance of stopping people from experimenting with tobacco products.

There was also a large discrepancy in results between the surveys, with the conversion rate from trying cigarettes to daily smoker ranging from 50% in one of the U.S. surveys to 82% in one of the United Kingdom surveys.

"The UK is seeing a dramatic reduction in smoking at the moment and this tallies with recent findings that only 19% of 11-15 year olds have ever tried a cigarette, so the good news is that we are on the right track".

While all surveys point to the fact that trying cigarettes once is highly likely to lead to daily smoking, there exist some variations from one survey to the next.

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

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics also showed that across the United Kingdom, more men are smokers than women.

Around 2.9 million Britons were e-cigarette users in 2016. "The presence of nicotine is clearly not the whole story", Hajek said.