A recent analysis of survey answers shows that more than two thirds of people from English speaking, developed countries went on to become daily smokers if they had ever tried a cigarette.
Three of the surveys were conducted in the United States between 2001 and 2013, another three in the United Kingdom between 2010 and 2014, one in Australia in 2013 and another in New Zealand in 2009.
Lead researcher Prof Peter Hajek, from Queen Mary University of London, said it was the first time the link between trying a first cigarette and becoming a regular smoker had been documented in such a large set of data.
Most of the people who are now addicted to smoking are the ones who started off with "what harm could one cigarette do".
All the surveys included questions about ever trying a cigarette and any subsequent daily smoking habit.
The authors conclude: "The transition from trying the first cigarette through occasional to daily smoking usually implies that a recreational activity is turning into a compulsive need that has to be satisfied virtually continuously".
The different surveys used different methodologies and yielded different results, so the estimated 68.9 per cent "conversion rate" from experimentation to daily smoking has a margin of error (between 60.9 and 76.9 per cent).
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Taking just one drag of a cigarette is enough to get you hooked, a study has found.
"Alcohol can only be sold by licensed shops, while anyone can sell cigarettes, which are far more addictive and lethal".
Given the high conversion rate found in surveys, the researchers suggest that at least some of the reduction in smoking prevalence observed over the past 20 years is likely due to reduced experimentation with cigarettes among adolescents.
In 2016, 15.8% of British adults smoked which equates to around 7.6 million people.
He said: It is striking that very few non-smokers who try e-cigarettes become daily vapers, while such a large proportion of non-smokers who try conventional cigarettes become daily smokers.
"The presence of nicotine is clearly not the whole story".
Meanwhile around 2.9 million people in the United Kingdom were e-cigarette users in 2016, it said.