Tobacco smoking, a major cancer risk factor, is very common in Germany as in many other high-income countries. Few studies have assessed the burden of tobacco-associated cancer incidence in the German population. We calculated the proportion of cancers attributable to tobacco smoking to estimate the burden of tobacco-associated cancer in 1999 and 2008. Smoking prevalence was determined from national surveys of a representative sample of the German population in 1998 and 2008–2011, and data on relative risks were obtained from meta-analyses. Cancer incidence for the years 1999 and 2008 was estimated by the German Centre for Cancer Registry Data at the Robert Koch Institute. We estimate that 72,208 incident cancer cases were attributable to tobacco smoking in Germany in 2008, an increase of >6,200 cases over 1999 levels. Among the cases in 2008 were 55,057 cases among men (22.8% (95% CI, 21.3–24.1) of all new cases) and 17,151 cases among women (7.9% (95% CI, 7.21–8.68) of all new cases). The highest proportions attributable to smoking were estimated for cancer of the lung, larynx, pharynx and the lower urinary tract. Tobacco smoking is currently responsible for more than one in five cancer cases among men and nearly 1 in 12 among women. Considering the increasing trends in cancer incidence and, until very recently, rising prevalence of smoking among women, it can be expected that the number of tobacco-attributable cancer cases will rise further.