FIJI SMOKING BAN TO COST GOVERNMENT US$ 10 MILLION A YEAR: NELSON

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (November 10, 1999 – Fiji Broadcasting Commission)---The government will continue to lose F$ 20 million (US$ 10.15 million) a year for restrictions placed on the tobacco industry and the continued rise in the price of cigarettes.

Central Manufacturing Company General Manager John Nelson says that due to the increase in the price of cigarettes imposed by government, people are turning to homegrown tobacco called 'suki'.

"The last time an increase like that happened was in November 1997, when the excise went up to 28 per cent and, unfortunately for the government, they don't get anywhere near that sort of increase in revenue because a lot of people stop smoking cigarettes and change to smoking suki - the local substitute. And because that is not taxed, the government does not get any revenue.

"Now the government can actually shoot themselves in the foot by using the excise too much because people will just move to non-tax products and that's happening now.

"We've seen over the weekend people saying we are not going to smoke cigarettes and we'll smoke suki. Now the government gets nothing out of that. They are missing out on something like F$ 20 million a year."

For additional reports from The Fiji Broadcasting Commission, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Sources/Fiji Live.

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