Almost five million people died from smoking-related diseases across the world in 2000, researchers estimate.
According to a study published in science magazine, The Lancet, deaths from smoking that year were as high in the developing world as in industrialised countries.
Over three-quarters of deaths among smokers worldwide were among men.
Researchers say the only way to stop deaths increasing is to improve education and prevention work.
Do you think governments are doing enough to combat smoking? What more can be done to explain its risks?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of views received:
In Finland you cannot smoke at a pub anywhere near the bartenders. In many places smoking at your own balcony is prohibited as smoke might reach your neighbour upstairs. By creating strict enough rules for smokers, we can save lives.
Isn't it a little ironic that we are talking about making smoking tobacco harder in the same breath as talking about making cannabis easier to smoke?
Smoking should be illegal. Since individuals are too stupid to protect themselves from the danger of smoking, laws must protect them.
When I was 13, my father died from smoking. He had lung cancer and then it spread to his liver, his brain, half of his body was eventually paralysed. He was 55. I'm 15 now and I don't have a father. For all those stupid enough to continue smoking when you know the health risks, whatever unhealthy consequences you meet, you completely deserve. Hey, it's your choice. Blame the tobacco industries all you want - when a huge profit is involved they'll never stop. It's up to consumers to unpopularise smoking and prevent more people from hurting themselves and their loved ones.
Shanna, NY, USA
We cannot have enough tax on cigarettes. Let's fleece these addicts for every penny we can get. It could help bail the NHS out of its current funding crisis.
Chris Collins, UK
The legal smoking age should be increased to 21 years of age. 90% of most people's lifetime habits are already set by the age of 21, and therefore they would be unlikely to take up smoking. The younger the legal smoking age the more likely people are to take up smoking.
Louise, Sydney, Australia
I am not a smoker, but my view is that if people choose to smoke it is their choice, we all know the risks that are involved. However I do have a strong view on smoking in public places such as restaurants. Yes it is true that alcohol is dangerous for us as well, but if I sit in a restaurant drinking a bottle of wine, I am in no way affecting anyone else, but I do not see why it is necessary for me to sit there and breathe in other peoples cigarettes.
If people can not go two or three hours in a restaurant without needing a cigarette then they have a serious problem. It is anti social and very selfish. Banning smoking in public places may be the first step into helping to cut down the amount of smokers we have in this country, as i am sure many people do count themselves as social smokers. This has been achieved in many places in America, and it seems to be working well.
Smoking is Humans third largest killer after cardiovascular diseases and Cancer, and you need to remember that its self inflicted, Tobacco companies needs to be fined or taxed heavily for their marketing campaign in third world countries, the Government needs to campaign especially for young kids to make it unattractive and un-cool.
Eissa Benjamin, UK
If the world didn't smoke and they tried to introduce tobacco now it would be prohibited as being unsafe and a health risk. On that basis alone we should do more, starting with making them prohibitively expensive to buy, produce and sell. If there's no profit in it the companies will move on to other things!
Last time I checked, smoking was not against the law.
Make people aware of the dangers and then let them decide if they wish to indulge in this perfectly legal habit.
Alcohol is just as big a killer. With smoking you kill yourself (my choice) - sure there's passive smoking, but nowhere near as dangerous as the damage caused by drunks, alcoholics, drunk drivers - it fuels all sorts of antisocial behaviour, etc - ask the hospitals. We have freedom of choice and providing we harm no one else (being a considerate smoker is all we need) - how dare the Governments deny us that and if this is to be the nanny state trend, then at least be consistent and ban all things that kill us - including cream cakes, long working hours and war - and where will it stop - frightening.
Yes, we could ban it completely; make it a class C drug. Then set up entire government departments to track down the dealers, with little success other than inflate taxes with no revenue collection currently enjoyed by us.
Derek Coleman, UK
I became aware that smoking could damage my health in 1963 when I was 15. I have had 40 years to give up, if I still am so stupid that I continue to smoke no amount of 'official' advice or action will stop me now.(for the record I do not smoke and never have). I do not mind if others smoke, if they die early that is their choice. It must remain a matter of personal choice for ALL of us to make our own mistakes, whether in smoking, drinking, sex or simply walking in the countryside.
We need to hit those who supply kids with cigarettes HARD. It's too late once they are addicted and the kids (and I mean kids of 11 -16) are really to immature to appreciate their mortality, what tobacco does to them and what cancer means. And ban it in pubs and restaurants - or at least insist that a smoking room be provided for those who need a drag - and let us who don't, enjoy the taste of our food rather than the smell of stale smoke on our clothes.
At 13 years old, I fell into smoking because of peer pressure. Before I knew it I was heavily addicted before I even realised the ramifications long term for my health. Now, some 20 years later, I still battle with the addiction, stopping for three years at one point, only to start again. I would say this to non-smokers: you need to accept that some people have been caught in a trap by a legally saleable product which is both massively addictive and very often lethal drug. I know that my life on this planet has been shortened to add to the profits of the tobacco companies and add to the high tax revenues tobacco accrues. I would therefore like to see a little less finger pointing directed at smokers, and more pointing towards the government and tobacco industries for ruining so many people's lives.
Paul E, UK
I do not smoke, however I categorically reject all overtures from paternalistic nanny states. It is acceptable to ban smoking in crowded public places, but some locales in the US have taken to banning it on private property (restaurants, bars, etc). The most oppressive governments are those intent on saving you from yourself.
So many smokers say that smoking relaxes them, but they don't realise that smoking actually makes you more uptight and that feeling of anxiousness is caused by nicotine withdrawal. When you smoke and feel good you're like the heroin junkie getting their fix.
Dwayne Johnson, UK
Perhaps a better statistic to tell people is that 50% of all people who smoke will die from a smoking related disease. That seems to scare people more than telling them that 0.1% of the world's population dies from it each year.
My father smoked for 40 years. He grew up working in the tobacco fields in North Carolina and was given cigarettes as one of the perks. He then served in the military during WW2. Smoking was very prevalent there. He quit smoking 20 years ago. Yet he still died at age 75 of complications from lung cancer and emphysema. He had the right to smoke and he made that choice. He probably extended his life a little by quitting when he did but he still paid the price for his addiction. He basically suffocated to death and I can tell you from witnessing it, that it is a slow painful way to die.
Enough is being done by the government to combat smoking - with information on how to quit and clear warning on cigarette and tobacco packets. I think it is about time the smokers themselves started to take some responsibility, because they are the only ones who can make the choice for themselves.
It's difficult to see what more can be done. Teenagers start smoking despite all the warnings because it is somehow "cool" or because of peer pressure or in the case of girls because they believe it keeps them slim. Later in life they want to stop but can't and hence become one of the group of hard core smokers that either cannot give up or don't want to. If we could prevent kids from starting in the first place that would be the best way but society seems to be at a loss to figure out how! I have smoked for over 35 years, I am not proud of this fact. However, I do know the risks to my health and those around me and I have on occasions tried to stop but.... I'm still smoking. So no amount of images showing cancerous lungs etc. will induce me or help stop the craving or habit. Anti-smoking advertising is, I feel, a waste of money.
Kay , England
Governments have no intension of combating smoking. They earn far too much tax from it. Why should they try to combat it anyway? We are ALL aware of the dangers of smoking. If people want to risk killing themselves, let them. Just stop them doing it in my face!
Having bought cigarettes in Europe this summer I am horrified at the price charged for cigarettes in the UK. The amount of tax paid on a packet of cigarettes would more than cover treatment on the NHS. I, like Bob, enjoy smoking. I, as an intelligent person, am aware of the risks. My grandmother smoked from the age of 12 and died in her late 70s of a non-smoking related ill, she smoked non-tipped cigs, and plenty of them. I would dearly love, however, for ALL smokers to refrain from buying cigarettes in the UK for a couple of weeks and see what these anti-smokers think when their tax bills are increased. Smokers contribute more in taxes than non-smokers and should be allowed treatment on the NHS at any time.
There is a huge difference between rich developed countries which impose restrictions on advertising to children and glamorisation of smoking and developing countries that don't have yet have these things in place. In countries such as the UK we can pretty much safely say that people have the information and make their choice freely. In countries where adverts still associate smoking with glamour and beauty and the tobacco companies market aggressively to children, not enough is being done. It just shows though that corporations will do exactly as much as they can get away with.
People know the risks and if you are stupid enough to smoke then you will have to deal with the consequences. Smoking is a scourge on society and I can't wait until it is banned in all public places!
Governments are probably only doing so much about it, but not all they could. Let us not forget that approx. 70% of cigarette taxes... go to the Government. Would be a lot of money gone, if we all stopped smoking.
One of the ways to combat smoking is to levy heavy taxes on tobacco products so that smokers feel a pinch on their wallet, and to enforce strict ban of smoking in public areas to shield the passive smokers. The other means is to educate the smoker population by showing them the statistics of cancer deaths due to smoking. This is a world wide phenomena and awareness has to start from the grass roots level. The governments should no where come under pressure from the tobacco industries lobby.
Nobody mentions what proportion of smokers die from smoking related diseases. Therefore it is not possible to make a valid judgement. It is accepted smoking is not good for the health but then nor is poor diet or dangerous sports. They are all a life style choice you can take it or leave it. We probably all know someone who died from lung cancer who was a smoker but I know two who died from this disease who had never smoked. Three people in my family have died from emphysema but only one smoked.
Governments could start by banning the over 600 additives that tobacco companies are legally allowed to put into cigarettes. Arsenic is one of these additives. Perhaps if smokers were only smoking tobacco there wouldn't be so many smoking related diseases and deaths!
It doesn't matter what we think because no matter how many deaths there are tobacco companies have too much power and money to be stopped! Remember how hard they fought just when it came out that smoking is bad for you? They are too close to the government and have bottomless pockets.
James Crisp, Hong Kong
There are plenty of programmes to help people quit smoking. There are also many new medical and psychological techniques being developed. Perhaps it's time to sit back and wait for the results of the present programmes, while still ensuring that education is made available to the general public, rather than trying to constantly develop new ones. If we don't wait to find out what works and what doesn't people could become inured to the constantly-changing programmes and decide that doctors and researchers don't know what they're talking about.
Roger Hart, UK
Only 5 million? The world's population is now over 6 billion. That's less than one tenth of one percent. I thought smoking was really dangerous? Perhaps the statistics are wrong?
Iain Nicholson, UK
Many people who smoke are so blinkered as to the risks and possible consequences of their actions that no matter what you tell them they won't give up. Alternatively, in this country at least, there seems to be plenty of public information regarding the health risks, I don't think any more can be done to dissuade more people from taking up the habit.
Steve W, Wales
I smoke, I know it's probably going to kill me, but so what?
I enjoy it.
Id say enough is being done; people are just choosing to ignore the advice given. Again, at the end of the day smokers are responsible for themselves. If they choose to kill themselves by smoking, so be it.
5 million deaths, the population of a city, even a country. It is astonishing, as smoking is something which can be limited if not prevented. No smoking in all public places - including night clubs. Educating school children about the harmful effects of smoking and limitation on advertising can be effective measures.