Children Who Smoke Just 1 Cigarette At Greater Risk For Addiction

LONDON – According to a study recently published in the journal Tobacco Control, a child who smokes just one cigarette can be addicted to tobacco for the rest of his or her life.

A survey conducted by the Cancer Research UK Health Behavior Unit at University College London found that a child who smokes briefly and is 11-years-old or younger is more than twice as likely than non-smokers to take up the habit later in life. The study found this to be true regardless of the child’s gender, ethnicity, social class or other factors, such as a parent being a smoker. Even if the youngster abstains from smoking for three years after the first try, he or she is much more prone to become hooked on cigarettes.

Scientists say this “sleeper effect” is another reason to prevent children from smoking even once. The dormant tendency to become addicted to cigarettes can be triggered by stress, depression or the environment at school.

In the study, 18 percent of the 260 children who said they smoked at age 11 were smoking at age 14. Those who had never smoked at age 11 had only a 7 percent chance of becoming smokers by age 14.

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