The Irish Cancer Society has urged the Government to push up the price of cigarettes by €2 a packet in the coming Budget, in a bid to reduce the incidence of cancer.

The society told the Oireachtas Health Committee that young people were very susceptible to the price of tobacco, so that a significant price rise would be expected to reduce the number of smokers.

John McCormack, Chief Executive of the society, warned that Ireland was facing a cancer epidemic, largely due to its ageing population.

He said about 22,500 new cancer cases will be found this year, but by 2020 that number is expected to rise to about 43,000 cases. 

This year alone, about 8,000 Irish people will die from cancer.

Norma Cronin for the society said smoking was so dangerous, not just because of the nicotine, but also because of more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco products.