Individuals have lost full autonomy over their smoking when quitting becomes unpleasant or difficult. We examined autonomy in relation to smoking frequency and lifetime cigarette use. A self-administered questionnaire was completed by three convenience samples of Year 10 students (ages 14-15) in New Zealand between 2002 and 2004 (n=96,156). The Hooked On Nicotine Checklist was used to measure diminished autonomy. Diminished autonomy was reported by 46% of subjects who smoked less often than monthly and by 25%-30% of current smokers who had smoked only one cigarette in total. The prevalence of diminished autonomy increased with increasing frequency of current use and with increasing lifetime use. Symptoms developed earlier among girls than boys. The data confirm previous reports that diminished autonomy appears soon after the onset of intermittent tobacco use and extends this literature by providing the first description of how diminished autonomy develops in relation to the total number of cigarettes smoked. These data suggest that smoking one cigarette in total can prompt a loss of autonomy.