THE EUROPEAN Union has agreed to exempt Poland until 2009 from new rules setting higher levels of minimum excise rates on cigarettes when it becomes a Member State, maybe in 2004. A current proposal would raise the minimum threshold to Euro 60 per 1,000 cigarettes from July, maybe doubling cigarette prices in Poland, damaging legitimate sales and reducing tax revenues. The EU has also agreed to exempt Slovakia from the law for five years after it becomes a Member State.

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