At least two-thirds of those who try cigarettes just once will go on to become daily smokers, new research finds
Researchers said that data obtained from the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand, shows just how addictive one cigarette can be.
Researchers found that just over 60% of adults said they had tried a cigarette at some point in their lives, with almost 69% of those noting that they had, at least for a period, go on to smoke cigarettes daily.
“[This shows] prevention, providing [fewer] opportunities or reasons for young people to try a cigarette, is a good idea,” said Peter Hajek, co-author of the research, from Queen Mary University of London.
“This is the first time that the remarkable hold that cigarettes can establish after a single experience has been documented from such a large set of data.
“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. 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.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that just 12% of people over 14 smoked daily in 2016– and16.3 years was the average age most 14-24 year olds smoked their first full cigarette—down from 14.2 years in 2010.
Professor Peter Hajek added: “Concerns were expressed that e-cigarettes could be as addictive as conventional cigarettes, but this has not been the case. It is striking that very few non-smokers who try e-cigarettes become daily vapers, while such a large proportion on non-smokers who try conventional cigarettes become daily smokers. The presence of nicotine is clearly not the whole story.”
The research, published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, is based on data collected from eight surveys conducted since the year 2000, from the UK and USA, and a further two studies from Australia and New Zealand.