Those countries include China, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Korea, the Philippines, Uruguay, Switzerland and Russia, it said.
The highest smoking rates among men in 2012 were in Timor-Leste (61 percent) and Indonesia (57 percent), followed by Armenia (51.5 percent), Russia (51 percent) and Cyprus (48 percent).
Top countries for women smokers were Greece (34.7 percent) and Bulgaria (31.5 percent).
Austria had a female smoking rate of 28.3 percent, followed by France (27.7 percent) and Belgium (26.1 percent).
A larger proportion of women in France smoked in 2012 (28 percent) than 1980 (19 percent), while the rate for men went the opposite direction, declining from 42 percent to 34 percent.
In all, France had 14 million smokers in 2012, two million more people than in 1980.
The study also measured how many cigarettes on average were consumed per smoker each day in 2012, and found Mauritania was the highest with 41, or two packs a day.
Saudi Arabia's smokers averaged 35 cigarettes per day, and Taiwan's 32.
"As tobacco remains a threat to the health of the world's population, intensified efforts to control its use are needed," said the study.
The research also examined where the biggest gains against smoking have been made since 1980, particularly in countries where more than one in five people smoked.
Iceland, Mexico and Canada had the most significant declines (three percent), followed by Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
The United States, New Zealand, Australia and Britain rounded out the top 10 for the drop in smoking rates.
The US smoking rate went from 30.6 percent in 1980 to 15.8 percent in 2012. Similar trends were seen in Australia.
"Globally, there has been significant progress in combating the deadly toll of tobacco use," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, who was not involved in the study.
"Where countries take strong action, tobacco use can be dramatically reduced."