Most regret ever starting smoking

July 23, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- The majority of smokers and ex-smokers – 85 per cent – regret ever starting the potentially deadly habit in the first place, show new data from Cancer Research UK published today.

The YouGov survey of 4099 (including 1746 current and ex-) men and women in the UK also showed that over three quarters of these smokers (77 per cent) took up regularly when they were still only teenagers – some as young as 13.

And a third chose to smoke the same brand of cigarettes as their family and friends when they first started buying a specific brand regularly.

This data adds to the growing evidence of support behind Cancer Research UK’s campaign, The Answer is Plain, to remove all glitzy, glamorous branding from cigarette packets while keeping the health warnings.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

More than two thirds of the British public (68 per cent) support the campaign which aims to protect children from the last bastion of marketing.

Mary Beecham, a 62 year old grandmother from Leigh on Sea in Essex, said: “I started smoking when I was 14 because it was the thing to do and I wanted to fit in and look the part. If I’d realised how hard it would be to stop I would never have started in the first place. I’ve tried to give up several times but it’s an addiction I can’t break.  We need to do all we can to protect young people and stop them from picking up the habit – I only wish I’d managed to stop myself having that first cigarette.”

Jean King, Cancer Research UK's director of tobacco control, said: "This survey shows just how addictive tobacco can be with most smokers wishing they’d never started in the first place. With so many smokers starting at a young age, everything possible must be done to remove the remaining forms of tobacco marketing via glitzy, colourful cigarette packs that are designed to attract young people.

“Tobacco is highly addictive and is very hard to quit – especially if people have started at such a young age. And we know smoking kills one in two long term users."

Sarah Woolnough, director of policy at Cancer Research UK, said: “We have a unique opportunity to protect children from the marketing of this deadly product. This is about us as a society saying that it is wrong for tobacco – a product that kills half of all its long term users – to be marketed to children as though it were a bag of sweets. We know that standardised packs with large health warnings make cigarettes less attractive to young people and the dangers of smoking clearer. We urge the Government to introduce plain packaging as soon as possible.”

Explore further: Plain cigarette packets could help stop people taking up smoking

Related Stories

Plain packaging removes cigarettes' appeal

September 9, 2011

Removing branding and wrapping cigarettes in plain packaging helps remove the appeal of smoking according to new a Cancer Research UK-funded study published in Tobacco Control.

Tobacco displays increase the odds of teens becoming smokers

September 13, 2011

Young people who find tobacco displays in shops attractive and who easily recall seeing the displays have a greater chance of becoming a smoker according to a new Cancer Research UK funded research study published in Nicotine ...

Lung cancer cases keep going up in UK women

April 13, 2012

( -- Lung cancer cases continue to rise in women with more than 18,000 UK women diagnosed with the disease in 2009 according to the latest Cancer Research UK figures released today (Friday).

People ignorant of cancers caused by smoking

July 2, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Cancer Research UK today reveals the shocking level of ignorance about smoking and cancer among the UK public in a comprehensive new survey of more than 4000 people.

Recommended for you

Young adults found displaying symptoms of net addiction

October 17, 2014

In 2012, Allen Frances, MD, professor emeritus and former chair of the department of psychiatry at Duke University, cautioned that "Internet Addiction" could be the next new fad diagnosis, complete with "an exuberant trumpeting ...

Can 'love hormone' oxytocin protect against addiction?

March 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the University of Adelaide say addictive behaviour such as drug and alcohol abuse could be associated with poor development of the so-called "love hormone" system in our bodies during early ...

Nicotine vaccine prevents nicotine from reaching the brain

May 2, 2012

If smoking a cigarette no longer delivers pleasure, will smokers quit? It's the idea behind a nicotine vaccine being created by MIT and Harvard researchers, in which an injection of synthetic nanoparticles prompts the immune ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.