abstract smoking in presently one of the most important public health problems worldwide. even though smoking is a preventable cause of morbidity and mortality, it still contributes importantly to the burden of disease. in mexico, contrary to what is happening in other parts of the world, the smoking epidemic is in an early phase, as evidenced by the low number of lung cancer cases or deaths, and by the minimal public health efforts to control tobacco consumption. one of the most important advances is its recognition as a priority public health problem by public health workers and society in general. effective interventions to reduce tobacco consumption have been launched to render the country free of tobacco. these public health interventions are being countered by the tobacco industry and the market forces that strive to preserve smoking as a life style of the population. the present work reviews the production means of the mexican tobacco industry, particularly those of cigarettes, the market structure, and the product expansion in the mexican population. this information should be useful to frame effective preventive measures, in the short and long term, to control this epidemic.