More than two-thirds of people who try cigarettes once become daily smokers, even if only for a short time, a new study suggests.
In the study, over 60 per cent of adults said they had tried a cigarette once in their lifetime, with almost 69 per cent admitting to having progressed to becoming daily smokers.
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.
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. 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.
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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.
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The team found that 60.3% of respondents had said they had ever tried a cigarette, and among those, 68.9% said they had progressed to daily smoking.
The dramatic shift from one-time smoking to a daily habit added to the evidence of the dangers of cigarette addiction, and the researchers believe their information could help in creating guidelines to prevent teens from even trying out cigarettes for fun.
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"Alcohol can only be sold by licensed shops, while anyone can sell cigarettes, which are far more addictive and lethal".
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.
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 U.S. to 82% in one in the United Kingdom - which meant the 68.9% figure was an estimate, as a weighted average of the figures.
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An estimated 2.9 million Britons used e-cigarettes in 2016.