The cigarette industry set records in 1979 by spending more than $1 billion on advertising in 1979 -- which was 20 percent more than the previous year -- leading to sales of more than 621 billion cigarettes, the Federal Trade Commission reported yesterday.

The report also said that the average smoker lit up more than 11,500 cigarettes during the year, about a pack and a half a day, slightly more than the year before.

Although cigarette advertising on radio and television was banned as of Jan. 1, 1971, manufactuers have pumped increasing amounts of money into other ad media. For example, they spent $14 million for newspaper advertising in 1970 and more than $240 million in 1979. Likewise, expenditures for billboard advertising rose from $7 million in 1970 to $163 million in 1979.

The report was submitted to Congress by the FTC as part of the agency's responsibilities under the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act. The FTC has submitted these reports on smoking since 1967.

In addition to the advertising figures, the report says that despite an 18 percent increase in spending to advertise low-tar cigarettes, almost 90 percent of all cigarettes sold in this country have more than 9 milligrams of tar.

Nevertheless, the cigarette companies spent about two-thirds of their advertising budgets on low-tar brands -- those with 15 milligrams of tar or less in a cigarette. In 1979, about 40 percent of the industry's sales were for these brands, a sharp jump from 30 percent in 1978.