Today's smokers may have a harder time quitting, according to a new study, and researchers believe the culprit could be genetics.
Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder analyzed the smoking data of 596 pairs of twins. Of those twins, 363 are identical twins and 233 are fraternal twins.
The researchers found that if one identical twin quits smoking, 65 percent of the time the other twin will quit, too. But for fraternal twins, the quitting percentage was 55 percent, according to the Demography study.
The Denver Post explains why this finding suggests a genetic factor is at play:
Because identical twins share the same genes and fraternal twins don't, the statistically significant difference suggests a genetic factor influencing the ability to quit, said the study's co-author, CU sociology professor Fred Pampel.
"The main significance is that the population of smokers has changed substantially over time," he said. "And the approaches to eliminating smoking might have to change to deal with that. The genetic influences are stronger now than in the past, which means that they're harder-core smokers."
Researchers said that in the past -- like before 1975, when smoking legislation began -- it may have been hard to see this genetic factor at play because there were so many smokers. But now that there are fewer smokers, it may be easier to see this genetic component.
Therefore, smoking shouldn't just be seen as a choice, but as an addiction, they said.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index that came out today shows that 21 percent of Americans smoke, a rate that has been about the same since 2008. Southern and midwestern states have the highest smoking rates in the nation.
And last month, HealthDay reported that nearly 75 percent of smokers today are considered highly nicotine dependent, with high nicotine dependence up by 32 percent from 1989 to 2006.