An increase in tobacco prices would provide smokers with key motivation to quit the deadly habit, and result in enormous public health gains, according to anti-smoking group Quit.
Welcoming the current debate on tobacco prices, Executive Director of Quit, Ms Fiona Sharkie, said that increasing the cost of tobacco products is the single most powerful way of driving down smoking rates.
"There is absolutely no doubt that increasing cigarette prices will save thousands of lives that otherwise would be lost to the devastating harms of tobacco. Research consistently shows increases in the real price of cigarettes are crucial to reducing smoking rates."
"Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death in Australia, claiming 15 000 lives each year, so we cannot afford to take the foot off the accelerator when it comes to introducing robust measure to drive smoking rates down."
Ms Sharkie is optimistic that an increase in cigarette prices will be included in the National Preventative Health Strategy being presented to Federal Health and Ageing Minister Nicola Roxon in the forthcoming months.
Data released in Victoria earlier this year suggested that the overwhelming majority of adults - more than 80% - approved of increased tax on cigarettes if the money went toward services to assist smokers to quit smoking.
"Contrary to popular belief, the move to increase tobacco tax will be welcomed by smokers as wells as non-smokers, with research revealing that more than 60% of current smokers are in favour of a tax increase on cigarettes."