Single cigarette leads to daily habit for two thirds who try it

Single cigarette leads to daily habit for two thirds who try it

Smoking prevalence has fallen dramatically in recent years but nearly 8 million Britons still smoke. It's also possible that smokers in developed country - where cigarettes have an increasing stigma - would not be eager to speak about their smoking habits to surveyors. "Two-thirds of adult smokers started smoking for the first time when they were children".

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London and the University of Glasgow found that there is a strong correlation between experimenting with cigarettes and becoming a regular smoker rather than sticking to occasional smoking.

More than two-thirds of people who try tobacco for the first time go on to become daily smokers.

"Tobacco use starts in childhood for two-thirds of smokers in the United Kingdom, and this study suggests that even trying a cigarette becomes regular use in most cases", she said.

Given the high conversion rate found in all existing surveys, the researchers suggest that at least some of the reduction in smoking prevalence observed over the past 20 years is likely due to reduced experimentation with cigarettes among adolescents.

"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.

However, they did point out questions can be raised over the recall accuracy people have in surveys concerning their smoking history, so more research may be needed in this area.

Lead researcher professor Peter Hajek, from Queen Mary University, said while figures are high, the United Kingdom is seeing a dramatic reduction in the number of people smoking.

Data was compiled from eight studies from the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand to gather their results.

They found 60.3 per cent had tried a cigarette, of whom 68.9 per cent progressed to habitual smoking. And make no mistake, this is an addiction of childhood.

"We recently launched a new tobacco control plan to map the path to a smoke-free generation and are working to educate people about the risks and support them to quit for good".

But Professor Hajek, who has provided consultancy for and received research funding from makers of stop-smoking medications, said this instant addiction did not appear to apply to e-cigarettes.

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.

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

An estimated 2.9 million Britons used e-cigarettes in 2016.

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