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Parliament approves minimum margin on retail tobacco sales

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Parliament approved late Tuesday a bill that guarantees a minimum 10% margin on retail tobacco sales, well over the 3-4% that industry insiders say is prevalent at present. The bill was submitted after a tender for concessions under a new state monopoly on retail tobacco sales showed a dearth of interest in applying to sell tobacco in Hungary's smallest communities. Decisions were taken to award 5,415 concessions, but no applications were submitted for 1,417 concessions for tobacco sales in communities with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants. One of the bill's authors, state secretary of the Prime Minister's Office Janos Lazar, said after submitting the bill that Prime Minister Viktor Orban supported a 12% sales margin on tobacco. The bill was approved with a vote of 222 ayes, 81 nays and a single abstention. Among the nays were three MPs of governing Fidesz. A Fidesz MP also abstained. Hungary will introduce the state monopoly on retail tobacco sales from July 1.

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