Virtually no one starts smoking after age 26

There's a reason the government has had to severely restrict cigarette advertising (and smoking in general) to minors: they're the only ones still gullible enough to think smoking is a good idea. According to the Surgeon General's office, anyone over the age of 26 has a better chance of being mugged by a great white shark in the dark alleys of a central European hamlet than they do getting hooked on nicotine.

Per a 2014 report published by the office of the Surgeon General, titled The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress:

One of the most important—and widely cited—findings from the 1994 and 2012 Surgeon General's reports on smoking and health was that virtually all cigarette smoking begins before 18 years of age (USDHHS 1994, 2012).

An examination of the birth cohort data indicates that, historically speaking, this is true for males born after 1950 and for females born after 1960. Table 13.2, which uses 2012 NSDUH data in an analysis parallel to that conducted for the 1994 and 2012 Surgeon General's reports, further illustrates and updates this finding.

In the 2012 NSDUH, adult smokers 30–39 years of age were asked about their first experience with cigarette smoking. Among adults who had ever smoked cigarettes daily, the mean age (in years) of smoking initiation was 15.3, and the mean age of beginning to smoke daily was 18.2. Among adults who had ever smoked cigarettes daily, 86.9% had tried their first cigarette by the time they were 18 years of age, while an additional 11.5% did so by 26 years of age.

About two-thirds (64.3%) of adults who had ever smoked daily began to do so by 18 years of age, and almost one-third of adults who had ever smoked (22.7%) began to smoke daily between 18–26 years of age. Virtually no initiation of cigarette smoking (<1.5%) and few transitions to daily smoking (<4.3%) actually occurred in adulthood—that is, after 26 years of age. Of note, initiation of cigarette smok- ing often occurred early in adolescence (before 18 years of age); 13.6% of adults who had ever smoked daily began smoking by age 14, before entering high school.

And while smoking in general has declined from 42 percent of adults in 1965 to just 18 percent in 2012, the rate of e-cigarette use among minors nearly doubled between 2011 and 2012 alone. And as we've discussed previously, e-cigarettes are by no means the safe and harmless alternatives to smoking they're marketed as. Still, any reduction in smoking (or e-smoking) in general will have a positive effect on the health and safety of the American people. [Surgeon General]

Factually is Gizmodo's new blog of fun facts, interesting photos, and weird trivia. Join us on Twitter and Facebook.