More than 80 percent of smokers and ex-smokers regret they ever started smoking in the first place.

Researchers from Cancer Research UK have found that the majority of smokers and ex-smokers regret ever starting the potentially deadly habit. They found this while analysing data retrieved from a YouGov survey, an international online market research firm in the UK.

"I started smoking when I was 14 because it was the thing to do and I wanted to fit in and look the part. If I'd realised how hard it would be to stop I would never have started in the first place. I've tried to give up several times but it's an addiction I can't break. We need to do all we can to protect young people and stop them from picking up the habit - I only wish I'd managed to stop myself having that first cigarette," said Mary Beecham, a 62-year-old woman from Leigh on Sea in Essex, in a statement.

YouGov conducted a study on 4,099 smokers and ex-smokers in the UK which found that more than 75 percent started smoking when they were teenagers - some as young as 13, but now they regret picking up the habit.

According to the researchers, tobacco is highly addictive and it is very hard to quit - especially if people have started at such a young age.

Most teenagers in the UK are persuaded to smoke because of attractive and glitzy cigarette packs and peer pressure.

"This survey shows just how addictive tobacco can be with most smokers wishing they'd never started in the first place. With so many smokers starting at a young age, everything possible must be done to remove the remaining forms of tobacco marketing via glitzy, colourful cigarette packs that are designed to attract young people," said Jean King, director of tobacco control at the Cancer Research UK, in a statement.

Smoking is responsible for more than a quarter of cancer deaths in the UK. In 2009, nearly 43,000 deaths occurred because of smoking-related diseases.

"We have a unique opportunity to protect children from the marketing of this deadly product. This is about us as a society saying that it is wrong for tobacco - a product that kills half of all its long term users - to be marketed to children as though it were a bag of sweets. We know that standardised packs with large health warnings make cigarettes less attractive to young people and the dangers of smoking clearer. We urge the Government to introduce plain packaging as soon as possible," said Sarah Woolnough, director of policy at Cancer Research UK, in a statement.