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Teen smokers less likely to give up the habit as adults, study finds

April 8, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

People who start smoking young are much more likely to smoke daily as adults and find it much harder to quit, according to a new study.

(CNN)People who start smoking young are more likely to smoke daily as adults and find it much, much harder to quit.

The findings of the study, which published Wednesday, said that cigarette smoking, even experimentally, among children of any age should be strongly discouraged.

"Cigarette smoking is an avoidable health risk, and its seeds are in childhood," said David Jacobs, Jr. , lead study author and Mayo Professor of Public Health in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in a news release.

The study said the prevalence of smoking during adolescence and adulthood was similar among US, Finnish and Australian participants in the study.

The new research has the longest follow-up of any study focused on smoking at an early age, the authors said.

Between 250 million to 270 million people in developed countries around the world smoke daily and smoking is thought to account for six million deaths per year among adults over 30, the study said.

For those who first tried smoking at ages 18-19, just 8% still smoked daily in their 20s.

For those who first tried smoking at ages 15-17, 33% were still smoking daily in their 20s.

Even children who only experimented with smoking a few cigarettes were more likely to end up smoking daily as an adult, the study found.

The study said it wasn't clear why smokers with an early and more intense smoking history tended to smoke more as adults and have more trouble quitting, but they suggested it was the early exposure to nicotine.

"It has been suggested that nicotine addiction is stronger when smoking initiation occurs earlier in childhood," the study said, although no age cut off point has been identified, it added.

"This is a very important study, both because it has data from multiple countries and because it has been able to follow individuals into middle age, a critical observation," said Rose Marie Robertson, the deputy chief science and medical officer for the American Heart Association, who wasn't involved in the study.

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