26 August 2010 Last updated at 01:09 GMT
Cuba to withdraw cheap cigarettes for elderly
Cuba's elderly will no longer be entitled to state-subsidised
cigarettes, the government has said.
All Cubans 55 or older are allocated four packs of cigarettes a month
for about 25% the normal price, but this privilege is being ended in
The measure is President Raul Castro's latest attempt to cut the
communist state's spending.
The island has been hit hard by the global economic downturn and the
long-term US trade embargo.
A statement in the government-run Granma newspaper said the move was
"part of the steps gradually being applied to eliminate subsidies". The
health benefits were not mentioned.
Cigarettes "are not a primary necessity," it said.
Some elderly non-smokers were taking their cut-price cigarettes and
re-selling them to boost their meagre pensions, says the BBC's Michael
Voss in Havana.
"I'm insulted because it's another thing they are taking away from us,"
said Angela Jimenez, a 64-year-old who receives a monthly pension of
about $10 (£6.50).
She said she will now have to quit smoking because she won't be able to
afford the normal price of about $0.33 a pack.
Cigarettes are the latest item to be removed from ration books.
Subsidised peas and potatoes were eliminated in November.
Earlier in August Mr Castro said the role of the state would be reduced
in some areas, to cut the "overloaded" state budget.
He said more workers would be allowed to be self-employed or to set up