Business

Half JT's tobacco growers face ax

Japan Tobacco Inc. said Wednesday it will ask some domestic tobacco growers to stop cultivating tobacco beginning next year due to falling cigarette consumption in Japan.

JT is legally required to buy all the tobacco leaf its contracted growers produce in the country. The request, made for the first time by JT, is intended to reduce the firm’s risk of future overstock, the company said.

Those being asked to stop growing tobacco are farmers 60 years old or older as of Jan. 1, 2005, and those whose tobacco fields are smaller than certain sizes, which vary depending on the type of tobacco they grow.

About 9,700 farmers meet the criteria, accounting for half of Japan’s tobacco growers.

JT said it will pay 20,000 yen per 100 sq. meters in compensation to farmers who will stop growing tobacco.

Cigarette consumption in Japan is projected to fall around 3 percent annually, reflecting rising health consciousness among the Japanese.

Sources said JT took the step also because the price of domestically grown tobacco is higher than that of foreign-grown tobacco.

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