MPs are calling for the legal age to buy cigarettes to be raised to 21 in an effort to deliver a "smoke-free generation".

The parliamentarians are also calling for tobacco giants to be charged for the impact they have on society, with the millions raised channelled into stop-smoking initiatives.

Taxes on tobacco products should also be raised to reduce their affordability and put people off, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health said.

Its chairman, the Conservative MP Bob Blackman, said: "Smoking remains the leading cause of premature death and health inequalities.

"Ratcheting up tobacco regulation further and faster is essential to achieve the Government's vision for prevention, to increase healthy life expectancy by five years by 2035 while reducing inequalities between the richest and poorest in society."

Other measures proposed by the group include:

- Banning the sale of tobacco from unlicensed retailers or those who break laws on who should be sold to.

- Collection and publication of tobacco manufacturers' sales and marketing data.

- Spending more on educational campaigns and making manufacturers insert stop-smoking information cards inside packs.

- Tightening rules on smoking in television programmes and films.

The group said that while the Health Secretary's commitment to fund stop-smoking services is welcome, treatment "is only part of the solution".

It also said that the 2017 Tobacco Control Plan's reliance on cash-strapped local authorities to help bring about a "smoke-free generation" is "unrealistic".

"Additional sources of funding and central government regulations are essential if declines in smoking prevalence are to be maintained and increased," the group said.

It proposed raising the smoking age by three years as experimentation, which turns to a regular habit for two in three people, is rare in people over 21.

Lord Rennard, a vice-chairman of the group, said: "Tobacco manufacturing is by far and away the most profitable consumer industry in the world,and Big Tobacco can certainly afford to pay more to clear up the devastating damage its products cause."

The British Lung Foundation welcomed the recommendations, especially the proposals to force tobacco firms to "pick up the bill for tackling the grave harm their industry is doing".

Chief executive Penny Woods said: "A 'polluter pays levy' could raise at least £150 million. This money, which the highly profitable tobacco industry can easily afford, could fund cash-strapped stop-smoking services and discourage young people from ever lighting up."

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said: "These proposals infantilise young adults. If you're 18 and old enough to vote, drive a car and join the army you're old enough to make an informed decision to smoke."