Ministers had vowed to reduce the proportion of people who smoke to 22% by 2010, but figures in the Scottish Household Survey (SHS) showed they fell short.
The SHS statistics show that 24.2% of adults smoked last year, despite attempts by health authorities and the Government to reduce their numbers and a ban on lighting up in enclosed places.
It is a fall from 30.7% since 1999 and the proportion of smokers has dropped from 25.4% since 2006, when it became illegal to smoke in pubs and restaurants.
The study said: “The legislation might have encouraged some people to give up smoking, though there is no apparent change in the overall trend.”
Sheila Duffy chairman of anti-smoking group ASH Scotland, said last night that a new approach has to be taken.
She added: “Because smoking is still one of Scotland’s biggest killers, responsible for a quarter of all adult deaths, we need to keep up the pressure to ensure the successes we’ve had in reducing prevalence don’t stagnate.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring a new comprehensive robust tobacco control strategy is developed.”