The World Health Organisation has claimed that using tax to raise cigarette prices by 10 per cent would 'motivate' 42 million people to quit smoking, preventing about 10 million tobacco-related deaths.

A 500-page report, resulting from a three-year research project on the effect of tobacco control in developing countries, rejects arguments put forward by tobacco companies that higher taxes encourage smuggling.

Joint editor Frank Chaloupka, a professor at Illinois University, argues that countries that have tried to reduce smuggling by slashing taxes have seen tax revenue fall and consumption increase.

'A more effective response would be to keep taxes high and crack down on smuggling, ' the book says.

The WHO predicts that if smoking patterns do not change, 1 billion people could die from smoking-related illnesses this century, ten times the number killed by tobacco in the 20th century.

WHO director-general Gro Harlem Brundtland said: 'The biggest cost of tobacco use is the disease and suffering it brings to millions.

'Moderate action, such as higher tobacco taxes, could ensure tremendous health gains.'