Most people who try a cigarette just once go on to form a daily habit, a new study has claimed.
Researchers found that 69% of people who dabble with just one experimental cigarette end up smoking every day, even if just temporarily.
The study’s authors, from Queen Mary University of London, looked at eight surveys that had gathered information on 215,000 people from around the world.
Of the respondents, 60.3% said they had tried a cigarette, with 68.9% of those admitting they had progressed to daily smoking.
They added that it showed “the remarkable hold that cigarettes can establish after a single experience” – and said the findings should be used to warn teenagers against experimenting with tobacco.
Lead researcher Professor Peter Hajek said: “The UK is seeing a dramatic reduction in smoking at the moment and this tallies with recent findings that only 19% of 11 to 15-year-olds have ever tried a cigarette, so the good news is that we are on the right track.”
The team analysed data from the UK, the US, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
Prof Hajek added that it doesn’t seem to be the case that e-cigarettes are as addictive as conventional cigarettes.
He said: “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.
“The presence of nicotine is clearly not the whole story.”
The study is published in the journal Nicotine And Tobacco Research.
According to the Office for National Statistics, 7.6 million British adults were smokers in 2016 – with Northern Ireland having the highest proportion of people with the habit.
Across the UK, more men are smokers than women – with men smoking an average of 12 cigarettes a day, one more than their female counterparts.
An estimated 2.9 million Britons used e-cigarettes in 2016.