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It's scary how many cigarettes it takes for the average person to become hooked
Dont let a tobacco addiction control your life. Here are how many cigarettes it really takes to become hooked and how to overcome it. - photo by Shaelynn Miller
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. Thats because once you start, its difficult to stop.

It only takes one

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 wont become addicted. But as shown from this comprehensive study, its more than likely just one puff can turn into a daily habit.

How to recognize a tobacco addiction

Someone whos addicted to tobacco might deny their addiction. But the first (and crucial) step to overcoming it is to admit the problem. Its 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 wont attend events where smoking is not allowed
  • Continues to smoke despite health problems
When someones daily schedule starts to revolve around smoking, its 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.

Another form of tobacco is on the rise

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 CDCs 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 youre smoking, its 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 CDCs 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.