EU to Consider Cutting Tobacco Subsidies | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 22.03.2004
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EU to Consider Cutting Tobacco Subsidies

European Union agriculture ministers meet in Brussels on Monday to discuss plans to phase out subsidies to farmers growing tobacco. The ministers will consider replacing the subsidies with payments to encourage alternative crops and help reduce the source of one of Europe's biggest killers -- smoking. More than €860 million ($1107 million) is paid each year to support the tobacco industry, but proposals to end the subsidy face strong opposition from Mediterranean countries who say it will force many poor farmers to abandon the land. Around 80,000 farmers, mostly in poor regions of Greece and Italy, get around €2,987 per acre from European taxpayers to grow tobacco, which is about 20 times the subsidy paid to grain farmers. Pierre Haein, director of France Tabac, the biggest tobacco co-op in France, told reporters: "The disappearance of Europe's tobacco industry will in no way resolve the issue of smoking and health. As long as smoking is legal in Europe, it's obvious that cigarette manufacturers will get their tobacco supply from somewhere else in the world."