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Indirect Tax

clipped from

Malaysia hikes cigarette excise duty to curb smoking

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Malaysia has raised its excise duty on cigarettes 25 percent as part of efforts to discourage smoking, officials said.

The increase to 0.15 ringgit (US$0.04; €0.03) per cigarette, announced by the Finance Ministry late Monday through the national news agency Bernama, was unexpected, because it occurred before the government's 2008 budget announcement in September.

A ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to make public comments, confirmed the decision Tuesday.

The move was in line with government efforts to encourage healthy lifestyles and curb smoking among youths, the ministry said. About 10,000 people in Malaysia die each year from smoking-related ailments, according to government statistics.

Government counts have varied between 4 million and 6 million smokers among the country's 26 million people.