THE CANCER Council believes a staged increased in tobacco prices set to begin next month could stop 250,000 people from smoking.
The tax on cigarettes will rise 12.5 per cent each year for four years from December 1.
This year smokers will pay $2.50 extra for a packet of 20 cigarettes - by 2016, it will be an extra $5.25.
The tax is in addition to increases occurring as a result of indexation arrangements and was introduced by the former federal government.
Cancer Council chief executive Penny Egan applauded the move.
``Australia falls below the World Health Organisation best practice for tobacco tax, which is set at a minimum of 70 per cent of the total price,'' she said.
``In Australia, tobacco taxes make up less than 60 per cent of the final price, so these increases will put Australia closer to the WHO targets for public health outcomes.
``Tasmania has the highest smoking rate of any state in Australia at 21.7 per cent, and increasing the price of tobacco is the single most effective way to reduce smoking prevalence.
``A 10 per cent increase in the price of cigarettes will result in a reduction in consumption because more adult smokers will quit, less young people will start smoking and others will reduce their daily cigarette intake.
``It is estimated that the tax increases starting on December 1 will result in 210,000 fewer Australian adults and 40,000 less teenagers smoking.''
Civil Liberties Australia state spokesman Richard Griggs didn't believe the tax would have such a strong impact.
``In an ideal world, increasing taxes would see a reduction in smoking, but really we don't live in a perfect world,'' he said.
``Some people, no matter what the price, will keep smoking.
``The government needs to potentially reassess whether it's penalising people for something they do legally in their own homes.''