Quitting the habit means fighting nicotine addiction. "It's not like drinking, where you have a huge social drinking population of nonaddicted people. People who smoke regularly tend to be addicted," says Timothy Baker, associate director, University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention.

With nearly half the US adult population lighting up in 2000, public-health researchers are hard-pressed to figure out what helps--and what doesn't--in the fight against nicotine addiction.

BIG BROTHER Laws and taxes. "The two things that have the biggest and most immediate effect on smoking are ... smoke-free workplaces and restaurants, and (cigarette) tax increases," says Stanton Glantz, director, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco. For example, Glantz's recent paper1 showed that when workplaces become smoke-free, workers almost immediately smoke 29% fewer cigarettes per day. Glantz says getting such a dramatic effect through cigarette taxes could require increases of...

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