Most smokers want to give up but simply find it hard to even go a day without lighting up, research shows.
The Office for National Statistics report, based on a survey of more than 13,000 people, found 63% of smokers in Britain wanted to quit.
But over half of them find it difficult to go a whole day without smoking.
It comes as the number of people smoking has started to plateau after large falls in the last decades of the 20th century.
Just over a fifth of adults currently smoke - a figure which has only changed slightly in the past 10 years.
It compares to the big fall seen from the 1970s to 1990s when smoking rates fell from nearly a half to under a quarter.
The most obvious reason for the sharp drop was the growing evidence of the harmful health effects of smoking.
But experts have often referred to the remaining smokers as the hardcore group who have been resistant to traditional messages.
The response in recent years has been to use legislation to discourage smoking, through smoking bans and introducing warning labels on packets.
The coalition government is expected to outline new measures in its forthcoming tobacco control strategy, which will be published later this month.
One of the proposals under consideration is plain packaging.
Martin Dockrell, of the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health, said: "We need to think of smokers as people wanting to leave a room. We have to give them as many ways out as we can. That means making sure there are smoking cessation services available, tackling marketing and making it less affordable."