Published: Thu, January 11, 2018
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

3 out of 5 who try a cigarette 'become smokers'

3 out of 5 who try a cigarette 'become smokers'

Across the United Kingdom, more men are smokers than women - with men smoking an average of 12 cigarettes a day, one more than their female counterparts.

Research found that 69% of people who had ever tried a cigarette had gone on to become a daily smoker, even if just temporarily.

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

Around two-thirds of people who try smoking go on to develop 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 study which comes forward most recently is based on the data collected from UK, US, Australia and New Zealand in which around 60.3% people had tried smoking from which 68.9% contributed to the number of daily smokers afterwards. Of the 215,000 people surveyed, 6 in 10 said they had tried smoking.

All the surveys included questions about ever trying a cigarette and any subsequent daily smoking habit.

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Researchers found that just over 60% of adults said they had tried a cigarette at some point in their lives, with nearly 69% of those noting that they had, at least for a period, gone on to smoke cigarettes daily. He also stated that this is the first time where the link between trying the first cigarette and becoming a regular smoker presented in a large data set.

One was that the surveys had yielded different results for the proportions who had progressed to becoming daily smokers - from 52% in one in the USA to 82% in one in the United Kingdom - which meant the 68.9% figure was an estimate, as a weighted average of the figures.

Considering the high conversion rate found across the surveys, the researchers conclude that at least some of the decline in smoking prevalence observed over the last 20 years could be attributed to a reduction in experimentation by adolescents.

Prof Hajek says some of that could also be down to the introduction of e-cigarettes. 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. Smoking rates were lowest in England (15.5%) and highest in Northern Ireland (18.1%).

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

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