Most people who try one cigarette become daily smokers, study says

Smoking cost the state nearly $3 billion a year in medical costs

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.

At least three out of five people who experiment with a cigarette end up becoming daily smokers at some point, a new study finds.

The findings, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, provides strong support for prioritising efforts to reduce cigarette experimentation among adolescents.

Lead researcher Professor Peter Hajek, a psychologist at Queen Mary, said: 'This is the first time the remarkable hold that cigarettes can establish after a single experience has been documented from such a large set of data.

Combined, the surveys (three from the USA, three from the United Kingdom, one from Australia, and one from New Zealand) included responses from more than 216,000 individuals who had been selected at random to provide a representative sample of the general adult population of the countries involved.

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Together, the surveys included more than 216,000 respondents, with between 50% and 82% saying that, after trying a cigarette, they had gone on to smoke on a daily basis - at least temporarily. An average of 60 percent of the more than 200,000 respondents had smoked a cigarette - and almost 69 percent of the nicotine-curious eventually formed a daily habit. "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". The researchers note that, The different surveys used different methodologies and yielded different results, so the estimated 68.9 percent "conversion rate" from experimentation to daily smoking has a margin of error (between 60.9 and 76.9 percent).

"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.

Prof Hajek added that it doesn't seem to be the case that e-cigarettes are as addictive as conventional cigarettes. As per the new research, those who consume one cigarette daily can develop a habit of chain smokers, and it can happen with more than two-thirds of people who use one cigarette in a day. "The presence of nicotine is clearly not the whole story".

In 2016, 15.8% of adults smoked - equivalent to around 7.6 million people.

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