Update: Campaigners brand call for rise in cigarette prices 'an outrageous attack on the poor'

Update 9.45am: Campaigners have slammed a call by the Irish Cancer Society to keep raising taxes on cigarettes.

It comes on World Cancer Day today where the Irish Cancer Society urged the Government to follow Australia and make a bold pledge on tobacco.

John Mallon, spokesman for Forest Ireland which represents adults who choose to smoke tobacco, said: "Raising taxes on tobacco is an outrageous attack on the poor and the elderly. It will fuel illicit trade and drive law-abiding citizens into the hands of criminal gangs.

"Tobacco is a legal product and consumers shouldn't be punished or treated like lepers for exercising their right to buy or consume it.

"The ICS is behaving like the worst kind of schoolyard bully. Instead of encouraging people to stop smoking through education they want to force people to quit using punitive taxation and other coercive measures.

"It's very easy for senior executives with their high salaries to call for tax increases. If they have any empathy for ordinary people they should show a bit more compassion for those who enjoy smoking and are less well off."

Earlier: Smoking is the cause of almost 3,000 cancer deaths in Ireland each year.

Today marks World Cancer Day and the Irish Cancer Society is urging the Government to follow Australia and make a bold pledge on tobacco.

Cigarettes cost more than €17 per packet in Australia with plans to increase it to €28 by 2020.

Donal Buggy from the Irish Cancer Society says that smoking needs to be tackled.

Mr Buggy said: "We know that one in four, 25%, of all cancer deaths are caused by smoking and that if we reduce smoking we reduce cancer deaths.

"We have had for some time increases in the prices of cigarettes here through taxation and we would be continuing to urge the Government to go further.

"We know there is correlation between an increase in the price of cigarettes and a fall in smoking."

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