CDH debates the problem of small Brazilian tobacco industries


Source: Paraíba Online, 27/11/2008

As long as there is freedom of cigarette consumption, it is necessary to protect the small tobacco industries scattered throughout the country that employ millions of Brazilians, said on Thursday (27) Senator Sérgio Zambiasi (PTB-RS), during a public hearing held by the Commission on Human Rights and Participatory Legislation (HRC), which brought together five representatives of tobacco companies.
The senator informed that the difficulties faced by small industries are aggravated by the fact that Brazil is a signatory to an international framework convention that prohibits the planting of tobacco on Brazilian soil. But he noted that the convention provides incentives for the tobacco plantation to be exchanged for another crop, such as corn, rice or beans.

Zambiasi admitted that the smoking situation is complex, because it involves two main issues: the worsening health of the population that smokes and the deepening of the social problem, since the tobacco production chain employs millions of people.

The representatives of the tobacco companies that took part in the meeting asked the government, among other measures, for a new taxation system for cigarettes, with emphasis on the Tax on Industrialized Products (IPI); combating cigarette smuggling, especially those from Paraguay; protection of workers in the tobacco production chain, around 2,5 million people; and the reduction in the asymmetry of economic power between the two multinationals in the sector - Souza Cruz and Philip Morris - and small national industries.


The president of the São Paulo State Tobacco Industry Union (Sindifumo), José Henrique Nunes Barreto, asked the government for a greater incentive to tobacco companies in the country. According to him, the national industries, which, he noted, are currently no more than a dozen, representing around 8% of the market with the sale of popular and lower-priced products, are suffocated by the two multinational giants.

José Henrique denounced what he called the scourge of global cigarette smuggling, organized, according to him, by large European and American corporations "in the face of the disorganization of the repressive apparatus of governments".

- They have adopted these illegal practices around the world to expand their consumer bases, consolidate their market shares and obtain additional profits, that is, through non-payment of taxes. All this serves as an argument for pleading the reduction of taxes - denounced José Henrique.

Artur Bueno de Camargo, president of the National Confederation of Workers in the Food Industries (CNTA), who also participated in the public hearing proposed by Senator Paulo Paim (PT-RS), informed that, only in the countryside, family farming that plants tobacco employs more than 900 thousand people.

Aristides Junqueira Alvarenga, representative of Ethics in Competition (ETCO), asked for full competition in the sale of cigarettes so that the payment of IPI is made by all companies. He warned after condemning the Federal Revenue's decision, which failed to punish smugglers, especially those who operate on the border between Brazil and Paraguay, who enter the country with up to one hundred boxes of cigarettes. For him, such a procedure represents “a permanent amnesty to smuggling”.

The meeting also included Adonis Soares, representing the Sinditabaco of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, and Luiz Oliveira, representing São Paulo's tobacco industries.