Smoke once & you’re hooked, study confirms
It is no secret that cigarettes are highly addictive. Now new research has found that nearly 70 percent of people who try a cigarette just once go on to develop a daily habit.
Researchers from the Queen Mary University of London, studied survey data from 215,000 people across four countries, the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand to come to their conclusion.
“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,” study lead researcher Peter Hajek, said in a Wednesday press release.
“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,” Hajek added.
And he means high. Of the 215,000 respondents, the team calculated that 60.3 percent said they had tried a cigarette – and an estimated 68.9 percent of those went on to develop a daily habit.
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. The team also found that the same does not apply to vapers, those who ‘smoke’ electronic cigarettes.
“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,” Hajek said.
Though it’s not all bad news, more people seem to be quitting now than ever before, while the number of those taking up the filthy habit has also decreased. “The UK is seeing a dramatic reduction in smoking at the moment and this tallies with recent findings that only 19 per cent of 11-15 year olds have ever tried a cigarette, so the good news is that we are on the right track,” Hajek expressed.
The team's research was published in the journal Nicotine And Tobacco Research.