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
A North East charity is calling on people in Wearside to consider giving up their spare room to a homeless guest.
Hitachi will launch its first Intercity Express train built at its manufacturing plant in County Durham.
North east crime writer Mari Hannah is ending 2016 on a high - her Detective series has caught the eye of Stephen Fry's production company!