Two-thirds of people who try a cigarette go on to become daily smokers, a study has found.

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

The authors from Queen Mary University of London said the study showed “the remarkable hold that cigarettes can establish after a single experience”.

They said that the study, published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, provides support for reducing cigarette experimentation among teenagers.

Researchers searched global databases for studies examining cigarette experimentation and smoking habits, including research from the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Data from eight surveys – with information on more than 215,000 people – were included for analysis.

The team found that 60.3 per cent of respondents had said they had tried a cigarette and, among those, 68.9 per cent said they had progressed to daily smoking.

Lead researcher Peter Hajek, a professor from Queen Mary, said: “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.

“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.

“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- to 15-year-olds have ever tried a cigarette, so the good news is that we are on the right track.”

Hajek added: “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 of non-smokers who try conventional cigarettes become daily smokers. The presence of nicotine is clearly not the whole story.”

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