Retailers in the Irish Republic may be banned from selling packs of 10 cigarettes in a bid to counter underage smoking.
The Office of Tobacco Control says 20% of 15 to 18-year-olds have taken up the habit, with more than 90% of youngsters not asked by retailers to produce evidence of age.
Health minister Mary Harney said she wanted to see retailers who broke the law prosecuted, and intended to ban the sale of 10-packs - the source of 75% of the cigarettes bought by under-age smokers.
OTC chairman Dr Michael Boland urged “a substantial price increase” on cigarettes in the December budget to discourage young smokers.