You probably already know that smoking cigarettes is bad for you. Studies have shown that puffing on cigarettes brings cancer-causing carcinogens into your body and can cause long-term damage to your DNA—and that’s not even the half of it.
But just one cigarette couldn’t do much harm, right? Wrong.
More than two-thirds of people who try just one cigarette reported that they went on, at least for a period of time, to develop a daily smoking habit, according to new research published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.
In the study, researchers pooled data from eight different smoking-related surveys conducted since the year 2000, which combined involved more than 200,000 participants. Between 50-82% of the participants said that after trying a cigarette they went on to smoke on a daily basis—temporarily. On average, 68.9% of the people involved said that they developed a daily smoking habit for a significant period of time.
Despite the study’s limitations, including the fact that the responses were self-reported and may have skewed toward smokers over nonsmokers, “you are talking about more than a 50% [conversion rate from trying a cigarette to daily smoking],” said Peter Hajek, a co-author of the research, in a report from The Guardian.
So the next time you think of lighting up a cigarette—even if it’s just once—you might want to think twice.