LONDON (CBS) Anna Kriek, 35, tried her first cigarette when she was just a teen. She now smokes regularly.
"It's just a break to gather my thoughts, check my phone. Sometimes, it's just a social thing, really," she said.
British researchers say more than 60 percent of people who take that first puff will go on to become daily smokers. They looked through surveys of more than 215,000 people from teenagers on up and found experimentation often leads to habitual smoking.
"It doesn't mean that these people are hooked for life but they will progress to daily smoking for, at least, a period of time," said Peter Hajek of Queen Mary University, the lead researcher.
Despite declining smoking rates in the U.S., 36.5 million adults are still regular cigarette smokers.
The study, published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, also looked at e-cigarettes.
"Almost no young people who try e-cigarettes become daily vapers," Hajek said. "They experiment but they don't progress to smoking."
Kriek says she plans to quit.
"It's a bad habit," she said. "It's a personal choice, and it's also very expensive."
She's not alone. Stopping smoking continues to be one of the top New Year's resolutions in both the U.S. and U.K.
The CDC reports more than 16 million Americans live with a disease caused by smoking, including cancer, heart problems, stroke and diabetes.