Scientists from the region are backing a campaign which argues that smoking just 15 cigarettes could eventually lead to a cancerous tumour - that is a total of 15 overall - not 15 per day.
More than 3000 people died of smoking-related cancers in the North East and Cumbria in 2010.
Even though the number of smokers in the region is falling, campaigners say too many people are still dying unecessarily.
Dan Ashby's report contains some disturbing images.
You can watch his full report below.
More top news
BTP officers are appealing for help to identify a man they want to speak to after a smoke bomb was thrown at a Metro station in Sunderland.
A look ahead at the forecast for the Tyne Tees region.
Tributes have been paid to a man who died after collapsing and falling into the river in Durham at the weekend.