In the 1960s, smoking raised a woman's chances of dying from lung cancer 2.7 times. By 2000-10, this had surged to 25.7-fold higher level of risk.
A similar trend holds true for deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), another smoking-related condition.
In this case, the risk of death rose from four times greater than it was for never-smokers in the 1960s to 22.5 times.
The American Cancer Society study involved more than 2.2m men and women aged 55 and older.
Men and women who smoked in the current decade were almost equally more at risk than non-smokers of suffering lung cancer, COPD, heart disease and strokes.