Almost one in five smokers who have tried to kick the habit failed within 24 hours and more than half lasted less than a week, according to a poll of 6,200 current or former smokers.
The average smoker tried to quit four times, and one in 10 unsuccessfully tried 10 times.
But despite the repeated failures, 45% of smokers think about giving up every day.
Three in five (60%) plan to stub out their last cigarette in January, according to the survey on behalf of Pfizer's Don't Go Cold Turkey campaign.
The campaign aims to encourage smokers to talk to healthcare workers about how they plan to quit.
London-based GP Dr Sarah Jarvis said: "As a GP, my main aim is to get people to look at leading healthier lifestyles and one of the most important of these is stopping smoking.
"I'm aware that the vast majority of people who do smoke are either desperate to quit or have tried and failed in the past.
"I want those who are motivated to quit to consider that there is support available and that even a brief conversation with their healthcare professional or local stop smoking service can increase their chances of success by up to four times, compared to going cold turkey."