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
Paul Brand and guests - including two new North East MPs - discuss the Queen's Speech and the Labour/Lib Dem leadership campaigns.
A look ahead at the forecast for the Tyne Tees region.
Health services that dealt with a double murderer should have identified the probability that he would re-offend