French tobacco tax rise cut by half

27th November 2003, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 27 (AFP) - French smokers and tobacconists angry over government price hikes for cigarettes got a small reprieve Thursday after the senate amended a bill to halve an increase scheduled for January 5.

PARIS, Nov 27 (AFP) - French smokers and tobacconists angry over government price hikes for cigarettes got a small reprieve Thursday after the senate amended a bill to halve an increase scheduled for January 5.

Senators decided overnight to limit the price rise to just 8 to 10 percent, instead of the 20 percent sought by the government.

The left-wing opposition immediately seized upon the change as evidence that the government had "caved in" to the country's 33,000 tobacconists, half of whom held a protest march Monday through the streets of Paris.

But officials insisted that the next increase, combined with a series of previous ones, would still push the price of many packets over the psychological level of EUR 5 (USD 6), thus upholding the government's aim of cutting cancer and other diseases among the country's 17 million smokers.

"The only difference is that the cigarette manufacturers have accepted to absorb part of the rise in taxes on a packet of cigarettes," an aide to Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told AFP.

© AFP

                                                                Subject: French news

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