Quitting smoking has been likened to breaking a heroin addiction as an Australian study shows many longer-term smokers have tried seven times to kick the habit.
A poll of 2000 smokers found 75 per cent reported at least two unsuccessful quitting attempts, while among those who had tried multiple times the average was 7.4 attempts over the years.
Addiction expert Dr Raymond Seidler, a GP based in Sydney's Kings Cross, said the figure was unsurprising as many smokers underestimated how difficult it would be to quit.
'What smokers don't realise is that nicotine addition is as powerful, or even more powerful, than heroin addiction,' Dr Seidler told AAP.
'The (brain's) receptors for smoking are as strongly attached to nicotine as the heroine receptor is to opiates.
'That can come as a shock to a lot of people, (and) quitting is, therefore, a serious challenge for most.'
Dr Seidler said the problem with multiple attempts, or periods of 'cold turkey' followed by a relapse, was that many smokers would become demoralised and eventually give up on quitting.
He said those people should seek help from their GP, though the survey also showed many smokers would actively avoid involving a doctor.
Almost three quarters (73 per cent) said they felt there were 'barriers to seeking a healthcare professional' about their smoking..
One in four (28 per cent) were unsure what a GP could do to help, while about same number said they could either give up without professional help, or they didn't want to spend money on a doctor.
A fear of feeling 'judged' kept 17 per cent of smokers from discussing the issue with their GP.
But Dr Seidler said all of those views were unwarranted.
'Very few doctors now smoke, but many used to and a lot have a sympathy for people who do smoke,' he said.
'A GP can guide you along the path and counsel you, and involve you in a holistic program that will work more effectively (at quitting).
'We know the downside of continuing to smoke - high blood pressure or diabetes, and you're in the frame for lung cancer.'
Dr Seidler said nicotine replacement therapies were available at pharmacies while doctors could prescribe 'more potent' quit-smoking medications to help 'hard-core' smokers to give up the habit.
The survey was conducted by Lonergan Research, taking in the views of 2005 adult Australian smokers who were contacted during March.
It was commissioned by pharmaceutical company Pfizer Australia and released on Wednesday, when a carpet of mock cigarettes was to be laid out in Sydney's Martin Place.
The fake cigarettes - 219,000 in total - will visually represent the total intake of a 20-cigarette-a-day smoker over 30 years.