More than one million ex-smokers in the US took up the habit again after the 9/11 World Trade Centre (WTC) attacks in 2001.
Stress resulting from the terrorist acts meant that the total number of those addicted to cigarettes rose by 2.3 per cent.
These results were found by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College’s Department of Public Health, which is based in New York.
Scientists said that a lack of stress management techniques and coping mechanisms available to those affected by the 2001 atrocities meant many rekindled old habits of smoking so they could relax easier.
Dr Michael Pesko, the study’s author, said there had long been a substantive link between stress and substance abuse, but that in this case an entire nation experienced a period of prolonged stress together.
The public health expert added: “This helps us better understand what the real costs of such disasters are in human and economic tolls, and it suggests ways that future stressful reactions that result in excess smoking might be avoided.”