A new research centre costing £5m is to investigate how to improve smoking cessation rates.
The UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies will also look at how tobacco can be made less dangerous for people who find it hard to kick the habit.
Professor John Britton, who is leading the five-year project at the University of Nottingham, said despite the smoking ban coming in last year, more work is needed to cut the number of people smoking in the UK.
He said: "At the moment we are just killing people. It (smoking) is the biggest public health disaster in the history of the UK and we have still got to deal with it.
"There is a tendency to think that because we have banned smoking in public places, that we have sorted it out.
"But the fact is that there are 10 million smokers in the UK, half of which will die from a disease caused by their smoking 10 years earlier than they should have done."
He added: "Part of the research will be to find ways of helping people who can't stop using nicotine to see if we can give it to them in a different way (that is less harmful).
"The whole point of this research is to find better ways of helping people quit and better ways of preventing people from starting."