Published: Wed, January 10, 2018
Health | By Jay Jacobs

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

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

The researchers analyzed eight surveys from the Global Health Data Exchange, which included questions on the first trial of a cigarette as well as daily smoking habits.

Researchers found 69 per cent of people who had ever lit up then went on to become a daily user.

Around seven million Brit adults smoke - with one person a minute is admitted to hospital due to tobacco.

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. The results of each survey were collated and used to calculate a conversion rate from ever trying a cigarette to ever smoking daily.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health, said that this means there should be tighter government regulations on tobacco sales.

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 United States surveys to 82% in one of the United Kingdom surveys.

Furthermore, because the variety of surveys used different methods, and yielded varying results, there is a margin of error between 60.9 and 76.9 percent. In the development of any addictive behavior, the move from experimentation to daily practice is an important landmark, as it implies that a recreational activity is turning into a compulsive need.

Data from the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand found 60.3% of people had tried smoking and an estimated 68.9% of those progressed to a daily habit.

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.

"It is striking that very few non-smokers who try e-cigarettes become daily vapers, while such a large proportion of non-smokers who try conventional cigarettes become daily smokers".

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. "The presence of nicotine is clearly not the whole story", Hajek said.

In 2016, 15.8% of British adults smoked which equates to around 7.6 million people.

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