World Health Organization (WHO) said tobacco was the world's leading cause of preventable death, killing 7 million people each year.
"That's equivalent to wiping out the entire population of Bulgaria or Paraguay every year. That's not acceptable," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the report's launch in New York. Victims include 890,000 people who die annually from second-hand smoke exposure.
WHO pointed out that tobacco companies seeking to influence health policy continued to pose a serious problem. The report accuses tobacco giants of using deceitful tactics such as "exaggerating the economic importance of the tobacco industry, discrediting proven science and using litigation to intimidate governments."
Such interference had stalled health policy developments, such as the creation of smoke-free public places or plain packaging, in many countries. It also warned that countries with partly state-owned tobacco companies should take steps to protect important health policy decisions from their commercial interests. One example is Japan, where the government has a stake in Japan Tobacco Inc.
"I think in this special situation there might be a conflict of interest in economic revenues from a partly state-owned industry and health of the population," Kerstin Schotte, a WHO medical officer said.
50 percent of the global population in 78 countries are exposed to strong graphic warnings on cigarette packs, only 15 percent live in countries that have implemented bans on advertising and promotion, the report said. It added that the most effective form of tobacco control - price increases - is one of the least used worldwide.