Researchers found that around 7 in 10 of those who said they'd ever tried a cigarette went on to smoke daily. The studies include three studies from the United Kingdom, three from the U.S., one from Australia and one from New Zealand.
The study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, compiled data from eight surveys carried out between 2000 and 2016 and recorded in the Global Health Data Exchange. Lead researcher Professor Peter Hajek 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".
Hajek added that this high "conversion rate" to smoking highlights the importance of preventing people trying cigarettes in the first place and that some of the reduction in terms of numbers of smokers in more recent years is probably aided by fewer teens trying it.
Further, Hajek revealed that the United Kingdom witnessed a commendable reduction in smoking, and the recent findings confirm that.
"It is possible that somebody who is a lifetime non-smoker did try a cigarette when they were a kid but it didn't make any impression on them, and they forgot it or don't see that it is important enough to report", said Hajek.
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.
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At this public health minister Steve Brine says,"Britain is a world leader in tobacco control, and thanks to our tough action smoking rates in England are at an all-time low".
"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.
As different surveys used different methodologies, the 68.9% "conversion rate" has a 16% margin of error (60.9% to 76.9%).
The research team also noted that it's possible current smokers were less likely to take part in this survey than non or past smokers: A great part of the homeless population smokes and people with mental health problems, who are less likely to answer surveys.
In a statement, chief executive Deborah Arnott says: "Just under half of child smokers say they usually get their cigarettes from shops despite it being illegal to sell cigarettes to children". To everyone's surprise, the company is running full-page advertisements in several United Kingdom newspapers, stating that it aims to stop selling cigarettes in Britain sometime in the future, notes CBSNews.
Smoking rates in the United Kingdom have been in long-term decline.