Tag Archives: Cigarette

Subversive Greeks stub out cigarette habit in record numbers

As tobacco use plummets, figures reveal dramatic attitude shift from EU’s worst offender

Man smoking outside boarded-up shop Atens


Greece’s economic woes have been blamed for smoking’s popularity in the country. Photograph: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP

No campaign could do it. No health warning could do it. And, for a very long time, no change in the price of a pack could do it.

But as they learn to survive on less, Greeks have earned themselves the unusual distinction of abandoning cigarettes in record numbers. In a rare feelgood story from the crisis-plagued country, experts who had previously blamed the nation’s tobacco epidemic for the critical state of its health system are in ebullient mood. “I am 100% sure we have solved the problem,” said Panagiotis Behrakis, who heads the Joint Action force on tobacco control in Europe. “It is now just a matter of time.”

A leading respiratory physiologist, long at the forefront of global efforts to combat nicotine addition and premature mortality from smoking, the former Harvard professor is not given to hyperbole. His has been no easy battle. Greece, at 27%, still tops Eurostat’s league tables of daily smokers.

In hospitals nationwide doctors think nothing of lighting up, in parliament MPs unabashedly puff away while police stations, invariably, are manned by officers with cigarette in hand. An attempt to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces has been merrily flouted from the day it was announced at the start of Greece’s economic crisis in late 2009. Such was the innate anti-authoritarianism of their customers, bar and restaurant owners declared they were simply putting ashtrays back on tables.

But if role models are in short supply in a country where even the health minister is prone to light up, recent studies have also shown a dramatic shift in attitudes towards tobacco. This month, Behrakis announced, the number of smokers had dropped 9.6 percentage points over the past five years. In 2012, his last survey, 36.7% of Greeks said they were either regular or casual smokers. In 2017 the figure had fallen to 27.1%.

“That’s a fall of almost 2 percentage points every year. It’s very high – a record number, in fact,” he said. At both ends of the age spectrum there was a noticeable decline in Greeks either quitting or not taking up the habit.

Tobacco consumption, as a result, had been cut by almost half over the past decade from an estimated 35.1bn cigarettes in 2007 to 17.9bn in 2016.

“Only 13% of Greeks over the age of 65 smoke, and now we are seeing the fruits of years of campaigning in schools, with a big fall in Greeks under the age of 24 becoming smokers. The battle is with those who are middle-aged,” he said.

Smoking cessation clinics and seminars have multiplied since Greece’s economic meltdown. “People are giving up not so much for health reasons as financial reasons,” said Aliki Mouriki, a prominent sociologist. “And there are still a lot of hardcore fundamentalist smokers out there.”

But Behrakis disagrees. The greatest drop he has noted is among higher-income earners, he said. And while politicians have done little to enforce a ban enacted to bring Greece in line with European anti-smoking legislation, this survey has shown that the vast majority of Greeks now believe reduction of the nation’s proclivity for nicotine should be seen as a national goal.

“If smoking in this country is like a vessel with two holes, what we are seeing is the feeding taps being slowly closed,” he said. “ It is a moral victory.”

Subversive Greeks stub out cigarette habit in record numbers

As tobacco use plummets, figures reveal dramatic attitude shift from EU’s worst offender

Man smoking outside boarded-up shop Atens


Greece’s economic woes have been blamed for smoking’s popularity in the country. Photograph: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP

No campaign could do it. No health warning could do it. And, for a very long time, no change in the price of a pack could do it.

But as they learn to survive on less, Greeks have earned themselves the unusual distinction of abandoning cigarettes in record numbers. In a rare feelgood story from the crisis-plagued country, experts who had previously blamed the nation’s tobacco epidemic for the critical state of its health system are in ebullient mood. “I am 100% sure we have solved the problem,” said Panagiotis Behrakis, who heads the Joint Action force on tobacco control in Europe. “It is now just a matter of time.”

A leading respiratory physiologist, long at the forefront of global efforts to combat nicotine addition and premature mortality from smoking, the former Harvard professor is not given to hyperbole. His has been no easy battle. Greece, at 27%, still tops Eurostat’s league tables of daily smokers.

In hospitals nationwide doctors think nothing of lighting up, in parliament MPs unabashedly puff away while police stations, invariably, are manned by officers with cigarette in hand. An attempt to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces has been merrily flouted from the day it was announced at the start of Greece’s economic crisis in late 2009. Such was the innate anti-authoritarianism of their customers, bar and restaurant owners declared they were simply putting ashtrays back on tables.

But if role models are in short supply in a country where even the health minister is prone to light up, recent studies have also shown a dramatic shift in attitudes towards tobacco. This month, Behrakis announced, the number of smokers had dropped 9.6 percentage points over the past five years. In 2012, his last survey, 36.7% of Greeks said they were either regular or casual smokers. In 2017 the figure had fallen to 27.1%.

“That’s a fall of almost 2 percentage points every year. It’s very high – a record number, in fact,” he said. At both ends of the age spectrum there was a noticeable decline in Greeks either quitting or not taking up the habit.

Tobacco consumption, as a result, had been cut by almost half over the past decade from an estimated 35.1bn cigarettes in 2007 to 17.9bn in 2016.

“Only 13% of Greeks over the age of 65 smoke, and now we are seeing the fruits of years of campaigning in schools, with a big fall in Greeks under the age of 24 becoming smokers. The battle is with those who are middle-aged,” he said.

Smoking cessation clinics and seminars have multiplied since Greece’s economic meltdown. “People are giving up not so much for health reasons as financial reasons,” said Aliki Mouriki, a prominent sociologist. “And there are still a lot of hardcore fundamentalist smokers out there.”

But Behrakis disagrees. The greatest drop he has noted is among higher-income earners, he said. And while politicians have done little to enforce a ban enacted to bring Greece in line with European anti-smoking legislation, this survey has shown that the vast majority of Greeks now believe reduction of the nation’s proclivity for nicotine should be seen as a national goal.

“If smoking in this country is like a vessel with two holes, what we are seeing is the feeding taps being slowly closed,” he said. “ It is a moral victory.”

Subversive Greeks stub out cigarette habit in record numbers

As tobacco use plummets, figures reveal dramatic attitude shift from EU’s worst offender

Man smoking outside boarded-up shop Atens


Greece’s economic woes have been blamed for smoking’s popularity in the country. Photograph: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP

No campaign could do it. No health warning could do it. And, for a very long time, no change in the price of a pack could do it.

But as they learn to survive on less, Greeks have earned themselves the unusual distinction of abandoning cigarettes in record numbers. In a rare feelgood story from the crisis-plagued country, experts who had previously blamed the nation’s tobacco epidemic for the critical state of its health system are in ebullient mood. “I am 100% sure we have solved the problem,” said Panagiotis Behrakis, who heads the Joint Action force on tobacco control in Europe. “It is now just a matter of time.”

A leading respiratory physiologist, long at the forefront of global efforts to combat nicotine addition and premature mortality from smoking, the former Harvard professor is not given to hyperbole. His has been no easy battle. Greece, at 27%, still tops Eurostat’s league tables of daily smokers.

In hospitals nationwide doctors think nothing of lighting up, in parliament MPs unabashedly puff away while police stations, invariably, are manned by officers with cigarette in hand. An attempt to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces has been merrily flouted from the day it was announced at the start of Greece’s economic crisis in late 2009. Such was the innate anti-authoritarianism of their customers, bar and restaurant owners declared they were simply putting ashtrays back on tables.

But if role models are in short supply in a country where even the health minister is prone to light up, recent studies have also shown a dramatic shift in attitudes towards tobacco. This month, Behrakis announced, the number of smokers had dropped 9.6 percentage points over the past five years. In 2012, his last survey, 36.7% of Greeks said they were either regular or casual smokers. In 2017 the figure had fallen to 27.1%.

“That’s a fall of almost 2 percentage points every year. It’s very high – a record number, in fact,” he said. At both ends of the age spectrum there was a noticeable decline in Greeks either quitting or not taking up the habit.

Tobacco consumption, as a result, had been cut by almost half over the past decade from an estimated 35.1bn cigarettes in 2007 to 17.9bn in 2016.

“Only 13% of Greeks over the age of 65 smoke, and now we are seeing the fruits of years of campaigning in schools, with a big fall in Greeks under the age of 24 becoming smokers. The battle is with those who are middle-aged,” he said.

Smoking cessation clinics and seminars have multiplied since Greece’s economic meltdown. “People are giving up not so much for health reasons as financial reasons,” said Aliki Mouriki, a prominent sociologist. “And there are still a lot of hardcore fundamentalist smokers out there.”

But Behrakis disagrees. The greatest drop he has noted is among higher-income earners, he said. And while politicians have done little to enforce a ban enacted to bring Greece in line with European anti-smoking legislation, this survey has shown that the vast majority of Greeks now believe reduction of the nation’s proclivity for nicotine should be seen as a national goal.

“If smoking in this country is like a vessel with two holes, what we are seeing is the feeding taps being slowly closed,” he said. “ It is a moral victory.”

Subversive Greeks stub out cigarette habit in record numbers

As tobacco use plummets, figures reveal dramatic attitude shift from EU’s worst offender

Man smoking outside boarded-up shop Atens


Greece’s economic woes have been blamed for smoking’s popularity in the country. Photograph: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP

No campaign could do it. No health warning could do it. And, for a very long time, no change in the price of a pack could do it.

But as they learn to survive on less, Greeks have earned themselves the unusual distinction of abandoning cigarettes in record numbers. In a rare feelgood story from the crisis-plagued country, experts who had previously blamed the nation’s tobacco epidemic for the critical state of its health system are in ebullient mood. “I am 100% sure we have solved the problem,” said Panagiotis Behrakis, who heads the Joint Action force on tobacco control in Europe. “It is now just a matter of time.”

A leading respiratory physiologist, long at the forefront of global efforts to combat nicotine addition and premature mortality from smoking, the former Harvard professor is not given to hyperbole. His has been no easy battle. Greece, at 27%, still tops Eurostat’s league tables of daily smokers.

In hospitals nationwide doctors think nothing of lighting up, in parliament MPs unabashedly puff away while police stations, invariably, are manned by officers with cigarette in hand. An attempt to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces has been merrily flouted from the day it was announced at the start of Greece’s economic crisis in late 2009. Such was the innate anti-authoritarianism of their customers, bar and restaurant owners declared they were simply putting ashtrays back on tables.

But if role models are in short supply in a country where even the health minister is prone to light up, recent studies have also shown a dramatic shift in attitudes towards tobacco. This month, Behrakis announced, the number of smokers had dropped 9.6 percentage points over the past five years. In 2012, his last survey, 36.7% of Greeks said they were either regular or casual smokers. In 2017 the figure had fallen to 27.1%.

“That’s a fall of almost 2 percentage points every year. It’s very high – a record number, in fact,” he said. At both ends of the age spectrum there was a noticeable decline in Greeks either quitting or not taking up the habit.

Tobacco consumption, as a result, had been cut by almost half over the past decade from an estimated 35.1bn cigarettes in 2007 to 17.9bn in 2016.

“Only 13% of Greeks over the age of 65 smoke, and now we are seeing the fruits of years of campaigning in schools, with a big fall in Greeks under the age of 24 becoming smokers. The battle is with those who are middle-aged,” he said.

Smoking cessation clinics and seminars have multiplied since Greece’s economic meltdown. “People are giving up not so much for health reasons as financial reasons,” said Aliki Mouriki, a prominent sociologist. “And there are still a lot of hardcore fundamentalist smokers out there.”

But Behrakis disagrees. The greatest drop he has noted is among higher-income earners, he said. And while politicians have done little to enforce a ban enacted to bring Greece in line with European anti-smoking legislation, this survey has shown that the vast majority of Greeks now believe reduction of the nation’s proclivity for nicotine should be seen as a national goal.

“If smoking in this country is like a vessel with two holes, what we are seeing is the feeding taps being slowly closed,” he said. “ It is a moral victory.”

Subversive Greeks stub out cigarette habit in record numbers

As tobacco use plummets, figures reveal dramatic attitude shift from EU’s worst offender

Man smoking outside boarded-up shop Atens


Greece’s economic woes have been blamed for smoking’s popularity in the country. Photograph: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP

No campaign could do it. No health warning could do it. And, for a very long time, no change in the price of a pack could do it.

But as they learn to survive on less, Greeks have earned themselves the unusual distinction of abandoning cigarettes in record numbers. In a rare feelgood story from the crisis-plagued country, experts who had previously blamed the nation’s tobacco epidemic for the critical state of its health system are in ebullient mood. “I am 100% sure we have solved the problem,” said Panagiotis Behrakis, who heads the Joint Action force on tobacco control in Europe. “It is now just a matter of time.”

A leading respiratory physiologist, long at the forefront of global efforts to combat nicotine addition and premature mortality from smoking, the former Harvard professor is not given to hyperbole. His has been no easy battle. Greece, at 27%, still tops Eurostat’s league tables of daily smokers.

In hospitals nationwide doctors think nothing of lighting up, in parliament MPs unabashedly puff away while police stations, invariably, are manned by officers with cigarette in hand. An attempt to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces has been merrily flouted from the day it was announced at the start of Greece’s economic crisis in late 2009. Such was the innate anti-authoritarianism of their customers, bar and restaurant owners declared they were simply putting ashtrays back on tables.

But if role models are in short supply in a country where even the health minister is prone to light up, recent studies have also shown a dramatic shift in attitudes towards tobacco. This month, Behrakis announced, the number of smokers had dropped 9.6 percentage points over the past five years. In 2012, his last survey, 36.7% of Greeks said they were either regular or casual smokers. In 2017 the figure had fallen to 27.1%.

“That’s a fall of almost 2 percentage points every year. It’s very high – a record number, in fact,” he said. At both ends of the age spectrum there was a noticeable decline in Greeks either quitting or not taking up the habit.

Tobacco consumption, as a result, had been cut by almost half over the past decade from an estimated 35.1bn cigarettes in 2007 to 17.9bn in 2016.

“Only 13% of Greeks over the age of 65 smoke, and now we are seeing the fruits of years of campaigning in schools, with a big fall in Greeks under the age of 24 becoming smokers. The battle is with those who are middle-aged,” he said.

Smoking cessation clinics and seminars have multiplied since Greece’s economic meltdown. “People are giving up not so much for health reasons as financial reasons,” said Aliki Mouriki, a prominent sociologist. “And there are still a lot of hardcore fundamentalist smokers out there.”

But Behrakis disagrees. The greatest drop he has noted is among higher-income earners, he said. And while politicians have done little to enforce a ban enacted to bring Greece in line with European anti-smoking legislation, this survey has shown that the vast majority of Greeks now believe reduction of the nation’s proclivity for nicotine should be seen as a national goal.

“If smoking in this country is like a vessel with two holes, what we are seeing is the feeding taps being slowly closed,” he said. “ It is a moral victory.”

Subversive Greeks stub out cigarette habit in record numbers

As tobacco use plummets, figures reveal dramatic attitude shift from EU’s worst offender

Man smoking outside boarded-up shop Atens


Greece’s economic woes have been blamed for smoking’s popularity in the country. Photograph: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP

No campaign could do it. No health warning could do it. And, for a very long time, no change in the price of a pack could do it.

But as they learn to survive on less, Greeks have earned themselves the unusual distinction of abandoning cigarettes in record numbers. In a rare feelgood story from the crisis-plagued country, experts who had previously blamed the nation’s tobacco epidemic for the critical state of its health system are in ebullient mood. “I am 100% sure we have solved the problem,” said Panagiotis Behrakis, who heads the Joint Action force on tobacco control in Europe. “It is now just a matter of time.”

A leading respiratory physiologist, long at the forefront of global efforts to combat nicotine addition and premature mortality from smoking, the former Harvard professor is not given to hyperbole. His has been no easy battle. Greece, at 27%, still tops Eurostat’s league tables of daily smokers.

In hospitals nationwide doctors think nothing of lighting up, in parliament MPs unabashedly puff away while police stations, invariably, are manned by officers with cigarette in hand. An attempt to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces has been merrily flouted from the day it was announced at the start of Greece’s economic crisis in late 2009. Such was the innate anti-authoritarianism of their customers, bar and restaurant owners declared they were simply putting ashtrays back on tables.

But if role models are in short supply in a country where even the health minister is prone to light up, recent studies have also shown a dramatic shift in attitudes towards tobacco. This month, Behrakis announced, the number of smokers had dropped 9.6 percentage points over the past five years. In 2012, his last survey, 36.7% of Greeks said they were either regular or casual smokers. In 2017 the figure had fallen to 27.1%.

“That’s a fall of almost 2 percentage points every year. It’s very high – a record number, in fact,” he said. At both ends of the age spectrum there was a noticeable decline in Greeks either quitting or not taking up the habit.

Tobacco consumption, as a result, had been cut by almost half over the past decade from an estimated 35.1bn cigarettes in 2007 to 17.9bn in 2016.

“Only 13% of Greeks over the age of 65 smoke, and now we are seeing the fruits of years of campaigning in schools, with a big fall in Greeks under the age of 24 becoming smokers. The battle is with those who are middle-aged,” he said.

Smoking cessation clinics and seminars have multiplied since Greece’s economic meltdown. “People are giving up not so much for health reasons as financial reasons,” said Aliki Mouriki, a prominent sociologist. “And there are still a lot of hardcore fundamentalist smokers out there.”

But Behrakis disagrees. The greatest drop he has noted is among higher-income earners, he said. And while politicians have done little to enforce a ban enacted to bring Greece in line with European anti-smoking legislation, this survey has shown that the vast majority of Greeks now believe reduction of the nation’s proclivity for nicotine should be seen as a national goal.

“If smoking in this country is like a vessel with two holes, what we are seeing is the feeding taps being slowly closed,” he said. “ It is a moral victory.”

Subversive Greeks stub out cigarette habit in record numbers

As tobacco use plummets, figures reveal dramatic attitude shift from EU’s worst offender

Man smoking outside boarded-up shop Atens


Greece’s economic woes have been blamed for smoking’s popularity in the country. Photograph: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP

No campaign could do it. No health warning could do it. And, for a very long time, no change in the price of a pack could do it.

But as they learn to survive on less, Greeks have earned themselves the unusual distinction of abandoning cigarettes in record numbers. In a rare feelgood story from the crisis-plagued country, experts who had previously blamed the nation’s tobacco epidemic for the critical state of its health system are in ebullient mood. “I am 100% sure we have solved the problem,” said Panagiotis Behrakis, who heads the Joint Action force on tobacco control in Europe. “It is now just a matter of time.”

A leading respiratory physiologist, long at the forefront of global efforts to combat nicotine addition and premature mortality from smoking, the former Harvard professor is not given to hyperbole. His has been no easy battle. Greece, at 27%, still tops Eurostat’s league tables of daily smokers.

In hospitals nationwide doctors think nothing of lighting up, in parliament MPs unabashedly puff away while police stations, invariably, are manned by officers with cigarette in hand. An attempt to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces has been merrily flouted from the day it was announced at the start of Greece’s economic crisis in late 2009. Such was the innate anti-authoritarianism of their customers, bar and restaurant owners declared they were simply putting ashtrays back on tables.

But if role models are in short supply in a country where even the health minister is prone to light up, recent studies have also shown a dramatic shift in attitudes towards tobacco. This month, Behrakis announced, the number of smokers had dropped 9.6 percentage points over the past five years. In 2012, his last survey, 36.7% of Greeks said they were either regular or casual smokers. In 2017 the figure had fallen to 27.1%.

“That’s a fall of almost 2 percentage points every year. It’s very high – a record number, in fact,” he said. At both ends of the age spectrum there was a noticeable decline in Greeks either quitting or not taking up the habit.

Tobacco consumption, as a result, had been cut by almost half over the past decade from an estimated 35.1bn cigarettes in 2007 to 17.9bn in 2016.

“Only 13% of Greeks over the age of 65 smoke, and now we are seeing the fruits of years of campaigning in schools, with a big fall in Greeks under the age of 24 becoming smokers. The battle is with those who are middle-aged,” he said.

Smoking cessation clinics and seminars have multiplied since Greece’s economic meltdown. “People are giving up not so much for health reasons as financial reasons,” said Aliki Mouriki, a prominent sociologist. “And there are still a lot of hardcore fundamentalist smokers out there.”

But Behrakis disagrees. The greatest drop he has noted is among higher-income earners, he said. And while politicians have done little to enforce a ban enacted to bring Greece in line with European anti-smoking legislation, this survey has shown that the vast majority of Greeks now believe reduction of the nation’s proclivity for nicotine should be seen as a national goal.

“If smoking in this country is like a vessel with two holes, what we are seeing is the feeding taps being slowly closed,” he said. “ It is a moral victory.”

One cigarette ‘may lead to habit for more than two-thirds of people’

More than two-thirds of people who try just one cigarette may go on to become regular smokers, new research suggests.

Researchers found that just over 60% of adults said they had tried a cigarette at some point in their lives, with almost 69% of those noting that they had, at least for a period, gone on to smoke cigarettes daily.

“[This shows] prevention, providing [fewer] opportunities or reasons for young people to try a cigarette, is a good idea,” said Peter Hajek, co-author of the research, from Queen Mary University of London.

The research, published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, is based on data pooled from eight surveys conducted since the year 2000, including three each from the UK and USA, and a further two studies from Australia and New Zealand.

Together, the surveys included more than 216,000 respondents, with between 50% and 82% saying that, after trying a cigarette, they had gone on to smoke on a daily basis – at least temporarily. Further analysis showed that, taken together, an estimated 68.9% of individuals smoked daily for a period after trying a cigarette.

The team also looked at whether the results were likely to be skewed by smokers being less likely to respond in surveys than non-smokers, but no strong effect was found. However, the authors note that the study also has other limitations, including that the findings are based on respondents self-reporting information, meaning the resulting figures are only an estimate.

“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. 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].”

Decline in British smoking since 1974

Hajek added that declining rates of smoking among younger people suggested that measures such as restrictions on sales and a shift away from portraying it as glamorous were having a positive effect. But, he noted, the influence of e-cigarettes should also be explored, since the decline in smoking rates in England has accelerated since the devices came onto the market.

Linda Bauld, professor of health policy at the University of Stirling, said the study highlighted the importance of preventing smoking in the first place.

“Tobacco use starts in childhood for two-thirds of smokers in the UK, and this study suggests that even trying a cigarette becomes regular use in most cases,” she said.

“Fortunately, in the UK, youth smoking rates continue to decline – but we shouldn’t be complacent,” she added, noting that according to recent figures every year approximately 200,000 children in the UK try cigarettes for the first time. According to recent reports, there were almost one billion smokers worldwide in 2015, with numbers expected to rise – despite a drop in prevalence – as the global population grows.

Global smoking prevalence

Bauld also agreed that the role of e-cigarettes merited further study, pointing out that while it had been assumed that experimentation with e-cigarettes would also lead to regular use, that does not appear to be the case. “

While rates of e-cigarette experimentation amongst young people have risen in recent years, rates of regular use in teenagers who have never smoked remain at well below 1%, she said. “We need to be clear about this distinction and keep our focus on doing everything we can to prevent smoking, which we know is deadly, rather than demonising vaping, which all the evidence suggests is a hugely less harmful behaviour.”

One cigarette ‘may lead to habit for more than two-thirds of people’

More than two-thirds of people who try just one cigarette may go on to become regular smokers, new research suggests.

Researchers found that just over 60% of adults said they had tried a cigarette at some point in their lives, with almost 69% of those noting that they had, at least for a period, gone on to smoke cigarettes daily.

“[This shows] prevention, providing [fewer] opportunities or reasons for young people to try a cigarette, is a good idea,” said Peter Hajek, co-author of the research, from Queen Mary University of London.

The research, published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, is based on data pooled from eight surveys conducted since the year 2000, including three each from the UK and USA, and a further two studies from Australia and New Zealand.

Together, the surveys included more than 216,000 respondents, with between 50% and 82% saying that, after trying a cigarette, they had gone on to smoke on a daily basis – at least temporarily. Further analysis showed that, taken together, an estimated 68.9% of individuals smoked daily for a period after trying a cigarette.

The team also looked at whether the results were likely to be skewed by smokers being less likely to respond in surveys than non-smokers, but no strong effect was found. However, the authors note that the study also has other limitations, including that the findings are based on respondents self-reporting information, meaning the resulting figures are only an estimate.

“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. 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].”

Decline in British smoking since 1974

Hajek added that declining rates of smoking among younger people suggested that measures such as restrictions on sales and a shift away from portraying it as glamorous were having a positive effect. But, he noted, the influence of e-cigarettes should also be explored, since the decline in smoking rates in England has accelerated since the devices came onto the market.

Linda Bauld, professor of health policy at the University of Stirling, said the study highlighted the importance of preventing smoking in the first place.

“Tobacco use starts in childhood for two-thirds of smokers in the UK, and this study suggests that even trying a cigarette becomes regular use in most cases,” she said.

“Fortunately, in the UK, youth smoking rates continue to decline – but we shouldn’t be complacent,” she added, noting that according to recent figures every year approximately 200,000 children in the UK try cigarettes for the first time. According to recent reports, there were almost one billion smokers worldwide in 2015, with numbers expected to rise – despite a drop in prevalence – as the global population grows.

Global smoking prevalence

Bauld also agreed that the role of e-cigarettes merited further study, pointing out that while it had been assumed that experimentation with e-cigarettes would also lead to regular use, that does not appear to be the case. “

While rates of e-cigarette experimentation amongst young people have risen in recent years, rates of regular use in teenagers who have never smoked remain at well below 1%, she said. “We need to be clear about this distinction and keep our focus on doing everything we can to prevent smoking, which we know is deadly, rather than demonising vaping, which all the evidence suggests is a hugely less harmful behaviour.”

One cigarette ‘may lead to habit for more than two-thirds of people’

More than two-thirds of people who try just one cigarette may go on to become regular smokers, new research suggests.

Researchers found that just over 60% of adults said they had tried a cigarette at some point in their lives, with almost 69% of those noting that they had, at least for a period, gone on to smoke cigarettes daily.

“[This shows] prevention, providing [fewer] opportunities or reasons for young people to try a cigarette, is a good idea,” said Peter Hajek, co-author of the research, from Queen Mary University of London.

The research, published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, is based on data pooled from eight surveys conducted since the year 2000, including three each from the UK and USA, and a further two studies from Australia and New Zealand.

Together, the surveys included more than 216,000 respondents, with between 50% and 82% saying that, after trying a cigarette, they had gone on to smoke on a daily basis – at least temporarily. Further analysis showed that, taken together, an estimated 68.9% of individuals smoked daily for a period after trying a cigarette.

The team also looked at whether the results were likely to be skewed by smokers being less likely to respond in surveys than non-smokers, but no strong effect was found. However, the authors note that the study also has other limitations, including that the findings are based on respondents self-reporting information, meaning the resulting figures are only an estimate.

“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. 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].”

Decline in British smoking since 1974

Hajek added that declining rates of smoking among younger people suggested that measures such as restrictions on sales and a shift away from portraying it as glamorous were having a positive effect. But, he noted, the influence of e-cigarettes should also be explored, since the decline in smoking rates in England has accelerated since the devices came onto the market.

Linda Bauld, professor of health policy at the University of Stirling, said the study highlighted the importance of preventing smoking in the first place.

“Tobacco use starts in childhood for two-thirds of smokers in the UK, and this study suggests that even trying a cigarette becomes regular use in most cases,” she said.

“Fortunately, in the UK, youth smoking rates continue to decline – but we shouldn’t be complacent,” she added, noting that according to recent figures every year approximately 200,000 children in the UK try cigarettes for the first time. According to recent reports, there were almost one billion smokers worldwide in 2015, with numbers expected to rise – despite a drop in prevalence – as the global population grows.

Global smoking prevalence

Bauld also agreed that the role of e-cigarettes merited further study, pointing out that while it had been assumed that experimentation with e-cigarettes would also lead to regular use, that does not appear to be the case. “

While rates of e-cigarette experimentation amongst young people have risen in recent years, rates of regular use in teenagers who have never smoked remain at well below 1%, she said. “We need to be clear about this distinction and keep our focus on doing everything we can to prevent smoking, which we know is deadly, rather than demonising vaping, which all the evidence suggests is a hugely less harmful behaviour.”