Radically increasing the tax rate on all tobacco products is the most effective way to reduce smoking according to a three-year study published in Brussels today.
The study, funded by the European Commission, says it is a policy that could boost revenues for the Government, while also saving lives.
The report also calls for the tax rate on roll-your-own tobacco to be increased to match manufactured cigarettes, because the recession has led many smokers to switch to the cheaper product.
The co-ordinator of the consortium that ran the study, Professor Luke Clancy, said EU governments should "double the minimum monetary tax level on cigarettes".
He said they should then increase it each year above the cost of living rate.
Professor Clancy, who is also the Director General of the Tobacco Free Research Institute, said roll-your-own tobacco is "much cheaper than cigarettes and this has to be changed".
Asked how much a packet of cigarettes should increase by in December's Budget, Professor Clancy suggested €1.
However, he added that a meeting of international health economists and tobacco control experts, which met in Brussels today to discuss the report, had been told that New Zealand plans to increase the price of a packet of cigarettes to €41.
Asked how Government revenues could be boosted, when an increase in tax would likely result in lower consumption, Professor Clancy said the higher price paid by those who continued to smoke would more than cover the funding gap.
Professor Clancy said that the Health Minister's proposals to ban smoking in public parks and beaches were good because they would "de-normalise" smoking.
However, he said "empirical research" proved that price matters when it comes to members of the public ending their smoking habit.