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Couchepin warns cigarette prices will go up

Swiss Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin says he wants to reduce the number of smokers in Switzerland by a third, raising cigarette prices to achieve the target.

Couchepin, who is responsible for health matters, did not want to give a maximum figure for the increase but told the Sonntag newspaper that a price of SFr10 ($8.9) a packet was not "antisocial".

He said the number of smokers in the country had dropped from 32 per cent to 30 per cent of the population.

"I would nevertheless like this to fall to 20 per cent," he added. This would mean that one in three smokers would have to stop.

Couchepin, who takes over the ceremonial post of president from January 1 for a year, said plans on prevention measures would be announced "in the coming months".

He explained that the new measures would also contribute to controlling health costs, forecasting that health insurance premiums would rise by a maximum 3.5 per cent in 2009.


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