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Japan’s Health Minister Says Cigarette Prices Should Rise 75%

Tobacco taxes in Japan should be raised until the average price for a pack of cigarettes is about 700 yen, or 75 percent more than the present level, to cut medical costs, Health MinisterYoko Komiyama said.

The ministry, which is participating in a tax panel session, will push for increasing tobacco levies by 100 yen annually for three years, Komiyama said. Most of the members of the panel agreed with the idea last year, she said.

Efforts to raise duties have been complicated by government ownership of a controlling stake in Japan Tobacco Inc. (2914), the world’s third-biggest publicly traded cigarette maker, and concerns that tax revenue may decline for the country facing the world’s largest public debt. Smoking was responsible for at least 4.3 trillion yen in medical costs and economic losses for Japan in 2005, according to a study by Institute for Health Economics and Policy.

Read the rest of the story: Cigarette Prices Should Rise 75%, Japan’s Health Minister Says.