Cuba Snuffs Smoking Subsidy for Elderly
Smokes no longer a necessity, Castro decides
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2010 1:43 AM CDT
When the subsidies were in place, elderly Cubans could buy cigarettes for around 10 cents a pack, a quarter of the normal price.   (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Cigarettes should no longer be considered an essential item for the elderly, the Cuban government has decided. In an effort to cut spending, Raul Castro's government has axed the subsidy that supplied everybody over 54 with four packs of cut-price smokes a month, the BBC reports. Subsidies for chickpeas and potatoes were axed last year.

"I'm insulted because it's another thing they are taking away from us," complains one 64-year-old woman, who says she will now have to quit smoking because she can't afford full-price cigarettes on her $10 monthly pension. Castro has been trying to remove state subsidies and restructure the country's centralized economy since he took over from his brother Fidel in 2008, Reuters notes, although he has no plans to end free health care and social security for Cubans.