Cigarettes in the Irish Republic will cost almost IR£8 for a pack of 20 ­ double the current price ­ if Finance Minister Charles McCreevy follows the advice being given by a government agency in next Wednesday's budget. The Office of Tobacco Control, set up to implement and police anti-smoking legislation, claims the increase is necessary if young people are to be dissuaded from taking up the habit. According to spokeswoman Valerie Robinson, the rising incomes and inflation of recent years have put cigarettes well within the purchasing power of children. "To prevent them taking up smoking, the price needs to be doubled," she said. "There is also the added benefit that, as research has shown, a sizeable price rise will cause a significant number to consider giving up." She cited a survey by the Media Research Board of Ireland which found that almost half the smokers questioned, and two-thirds of non-smokers, backed an overnight doubling of cigarette prices. A spokesman for Minister McCreevy said there would be concern that "a very large increase" on cigarettes would push up Ireland's inflation and set off new wage demands by unions." {{NEWS }}