It all started in early July with British American Tobacco; the company brought down its prices of Lucky Strikes and Rothmans by 20 cents.
“Taking advantage of a recent decision of the European Court of Justice — wrote Le Parisienne — some brands have lowered their price by 20 or 25 cents a pack.”
The French State announced that it intended to increase the taxes on cigarettes so that the prices would return to what they were before. In this way, the State could earn more on a pack of Lucky Strikes and BAT would earn less.
France, like Italy, was recently condemned by the European Court of Justice for having adopted the minimum price of cigarettes.
But in France, the measures of the Government devised to implement the European sentence have been radically different from what we are seeing in Italy.
The French “minimum excise” will hit all the cigarette manufacturers, as the European Union intended. If they want to compete on the market with BAT, they will have to give up some of their profits. One thing is certain; the State will earn more and Big Tobacco less.
On the other hand, in Italy, in spite of the fact that the manufacturers take in as much as the taxman, much more than they get in France, no one dares touch the interests of Big Tobacco.
So, while France has applied the “minimum excise”, in Italy the policy-makers have invented the “minimum tax”, a tax that exists only in Italy and nowhere else in the world…
The Italian “Tax Levy”
“The Ministry of the Balance of France wants to raise the State taxes on cigarettes to make up for the reduction of cigarette prices”, wrote Le Parisienne, and it is precisely this revenue for the State that is lacking in our “Belpaese”.
While the “minimum excise” advised by the EU, is meant to increase tax revenues, Italy’s ridiculous “minimum tax”, the tax that no one is allowed to pay, has been invented to leave the cigarette manufacturers with every cent of the profits they were earning before… Ours continues to be the country of servants.