Tabacs owners demonstrate in Paris

24th November 2003, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 24 (AFP) - More than 15,000 tobacconists were expected in Paris on Monday for a protest against government price hikes for cigarettes that they say is putting them out of business and promoting cross-border smuggling.

PARIS, Nov 24 (AFP) - More than 15,000 tobacconists were expected in Paris on Monday for a protest against government price hikes for cigarettes that they say is putting them out of business and promoting cross-border smuggling.

Specially chartered buses and trains were to bring the tobacconists in from all over France for the march through the southern part of the capital. The demonstration was timed to coincide with a debate in the French Senate over the price rise.

The government has presented the increase as a health measure, designed to cut the incidence of cancer and other diseases among the country's 20 million smokers.

Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin confirmed late Sunday that the third price rise in a year would take place January 1. The successive hikes have pushed the price of an average packet of cigarettes from EUR 3.6 to EUR 5.5 (from USD 4.2 to USD 6.4).

But France's 34,000 licensed "buralistes" have expressed outrage, saying their customers were buying cigarettes in neighbouring EU states, where prices can be half as much, and that organised smuggling rings would blossom.

After they organised their first-ever one-day strike last month, the government stepped in to promise that prices would be frozen for four years following the January increase.

© AFP

                                                                Subject: French news



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