British researchers report that, among 11-year-olds, the desire to smoke can lie dormant for more than three years after trying just one cigarette. Children who light up just once are twice as likely to become steady smokers later. Smoking a single cigarette can leave children susceptible to smoking uptake for several years.

Almost two in 10 (17.3 percent) of children ages 13 to 15 worldwide use tobacco products. Tobacco use is highest in North America and Europe, and lowest in Southeast Asian and western Pacific regions.
In the study the researchers found that by age 14, students who had tried smoking just once at age 11 were twice as likely to have become regular smokers as children who had not tried smoking. The findings weren't influenced by gender, ethnicity and economic status. They also held up after the researchers took into account whether parents smoked or whether the child was rebellious.

The researchers agree that there should be some programs created which would prevent children from smoking which may therefore appear an important goal. The health-care providers and those designing interventions should not ignore adolescents who appear to be long-term nonsmokers but had tried smoking once several years ago. These children are at an increased risk of taking up smoking, and may be missed in targeted interventions.