The Cancer Research Campaign says the disease claims 37,000 lives each year and there are more than 40,000 new cases annually.
It remains the most common cause of cancer mortality, with 100 deaths every day.
Numerous health education campaigns have failed to make an impact on the proportion of new recruits to smoking, and the government target of less than 20 per cent of adults smoking by 2000 is unlikely to be achieved,
Professor Gordon McVie, director-general of the CRC, said that government health campaigns which cost less than pounds 10m a year have to compete with the tobacco industry's annual advertising budget of pounds 100m.
The CRC wants an outright ban on advertising and promotion; a greater commitment by government to help people quit, and new laws to protect non-smokers in public places.
It is estimated that one person dies every day from lung cancer caused by passive smoking. The Government target for 80 per cent of public places to have effective anti-smoking policies by 1994 has not been met.
More effective methods for preventing young people from starting to smoke are also required, the CRC says.
It is estimated that the Government receives more than pounds 100m a year in tax on cigarettes sold illegally to children under the age of 16.
Smoking surveys began in 1948, when 82 per cent of men smoked some sort of tobacco and 65 per cent were cigarette smokers. By 1970, the figure had fallen to 55 per cent, and to 28 per cent by 1994.
For women, the pattern is different. In 1948, 41 per cent of women smoked. By 1970, the figure was 44 per cent, falling to 26 per cent by 1994.
Lung Cancer and Smoking - UK Factsheet 1996; Cancer Research Campaign, Cambridge House, 10 Cambridge Terrace, London NW1 4JL.