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First Time Smokers Have A Higher Risk Of Becoming Addicted, Study Shows
11 January 2018, 03:14 | Rodolfo Wallace
Majority who experiment with cigarettes go on to become smokers, study finds
Of the respondents, 60.3% said they had tried a cigarette, with 68.9% of those admitting they had progressed to daily smoking. Three of the surveys were conducted in the USA between 2001 and 2013, another three in the United Kingdom between 2010 and 2014, one in Australia in 2013 and another in New Zealand in 2009.
"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", said Peter Hajek, professor of clinical psychology and director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, who led the research.
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.
But he said the United Kingdom was seeing a "dramatic reduction in smoking", with only 19 per cent of 11 to 15-yearolds having tried it. Individuals in the United Kingdom, for example, were particularly susceptible to becoming regular smokers after trying one cigarette, as more than 80 percent of respondents there who had smoked one cigarette reported taking up a daily habit.
In 2016, 15.8% of adults smoked - equivalent to around 7.6 million people.
However, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health stated that government now should come up with strict regulation om tobacco sales.
"The government is refusing to introduce licensing for tobacco retailers, even though there is strong support for this both from the public and retailers", she said.
The different surveys used different methodologies and yielded different results, so the estimated 68.9 per cent "conversion rate" from experimentation to daily smoking has a margin of error (between 60.9 and 76.9 per cent).
But, he added, "I think even if you assume there is a recall issue and other things, you are talking about more than a 50% [conversion rate from trying a cigarette to daily smoking]".
Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK's prevention expert, said the work highlights the importance of preventing experimentation in young people. The company is also planning to lend support to the anti-smoking efforts of local United Kingdom governments in areas where smoking rates have spiked up.
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