Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable diseases in the United States. Even with the overwhelming amount of studies and statistics sharing the dangers of smoking, people continue to smoke. That's because once you start, it's difficult to stop.
A recent 16-year study shows it only takes one cigarette to become addicted. Data from 215,000 individuals in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S. and the UK revealed 60.3 percent of people had tried smoking and about 68.9 percent of those people continued smoking daily.
You might want to try just one cigarette thinking you won't become addicted. But as shown from this comprehensive study, it's more than likely just one puff can turn into a daily habit.
How to recognize a tobacco addiction
Someone who's addicted to tobacco might deny their addiction. But the first (and crucial) step to overcoming it is to admit the problem. It's considered a tobacco addiction of the individual:
Cannot stop smoking, despite several attempts
Experiences withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit, including shaky hands, irritability or a rapid heart rate
Must smoke after long periods of time without using tobacco
Needs tobacco to feel "normal"
Turns to tobacco when feeling stressed
Gives up activities or won't attend events where smoking is not allowed
Continues to smoke despite health problems
When someone's daily schedule starts to revolve around smoking, it's a sign of a tobacco addiction. Many people are aware of the effects this habit can have on a person and the people around them, and smoking is continually decreasing.
Smoking is losing popularity
About 15 percent of U.S. adults smoke cigarettes, down from 21 percent in 2005. And smoking is even decreasing in the age group most likely to smoke. The first smoking records date back to 1974, reporting that 35 percent of 24 to 35-year-olds never picked up smoking. Today that number is up to 60 percent.
Smoking is also losing popularity among the younger age groups. Cigarette use among high school students decreased from 15 percent in 2011 to eight percent in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Creating an environment in which fewer young people try smoking and more smokers quit will protect the health of future generations and avoid hundreds and thousands of premature deaths," UK policy director Hazel Cheeseman says.
While the younger generation is less likely to reach for a cigarette, they are trying a different form of tobacco: e-cigarettes. About 11 percent of high school students reported using e-cigarettes within the last 30 days, the CDC's definition of current use. This is a 9.8 percent increase from 2011 but a five percent decrease from 2015, leading some experts to believe it was only a temporary trend.
"While the number of high school students who use e-cigarettes is still too high, this rapid decline is a positive indicator that much youth e-cigarette use has been experimental and that the current offering of products may be less appealing to youth than feared," said Truth Initiative CEO Robin Koval.
How to quit smoking
If you're smoking, it's never too late to quit. Take action now to be healthier for yourself and your family. Here are a few expert tips on how to quit smoking:
Write down why you want to quit and put it somewhere you can see it every day
Listen to real experiences from past smokers on the CDC's website
Avoid situations and activities you associate with smoking
Call the quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW
Ask your doctor about nicotine replacements or other medications
Reach out to your family, friends and doctor for help quitting. By sharing your goal with others, you have someone else to hold you accountable and encourage you as you change your lifestyle to become happier and healthier.