Smokers and beer drinkers are hit

Packet of cigarettes now costs a minimum of €6.10 - while beer excise duty looks set to rise

SMOKERS were hit in the pocket this morning with a rise in cigarette and tobacco prices that will bring in an extra €1billion in tax.

And Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac warned that further rises could be on the way in a bid to stop people smoking and cut the costs to the health service.

He is also planning a rethink on the tobacco duty regime as each rise in prices pushes people towards cheaper brands - which are thought to be more toxic.

However, leaked plans say that excise duties on beer could also rise, perhaps being doubled - pushing prices up five centimes for a demi.

Smokers paid an average of 6.5% extra for their habit this morning - adding around €0.40 a pack, with the cheapest pack of Gauloises Blondes costing €6.10. The best-selling brand, Marlboro, is now €6.60.

Loose tobacco also rose in price, by 10%, to add an extra €0.60 for a 30g pack - to €6.45.

Already 20% of the cigarettes smoked in France are bought outside the country as they cost less in neighbouring countries. The typical price in Spain is €4.25, Luxembourg €4.40, Italy €4.90, Belgium €5.05 and Germany €5.16.

With tobacco taxed at 80%, the move will bring in an extra €1billion over the year. In 2011 tobacco tax brought in €13.8bn.

If imposed, the rise in beer excise duty - which at the moment is €2.75 per degree of alcohol per hectolitre - would bring in an extra €500m to help the social security budget.

Drinkers in a bar will notice little change in the price but supermarket prices are likely to be affected more noticeably, as larger quantities are bought in one go.