Japan Tobacco Inc. said Wednesday it sold 60 billion cigarettes nationwide during the quarter that ended Dec. 31, down 4.9 percent from a year earlier. The company attributed the decline to:

Japan’s aging society and growing concerns over the negative effects that smoking has on people’s health.

The lingering effects of two tobacco retail price rises following tax increases.

The sluggish domestic economy.

However, net sales per 1,000 cigarettes totaled 10,864 yen in the October-December period, up 6 yen from a year earlier, it said.

In the international tobacco business, JT’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) showed a solid 17.4 percent rise to about 59.5 billion yen for the 2002 calendar year. EBITDA earnings are an approximate measure of a company’s operating cash flow based on data from its income statement.

Behind the strong international results is the continuing growth of the company’s global flagship brands, including Camel, Winston, Mild Seven and Salem, it said.

JT was semiprivatized in April 1985, but the government still owns more than 60 percent of the company.

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