UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: March 5, 301 AP.

Utania's tobacco industry too big to "shut down"

President Okarvits has ruled out a "shut down" of the tobacco industry in Utania, a proposal from the fledgling Utanian Anti-Cancer Association (UACA).

The UACA proposed the "rapid shut down" of the tobacco industry on Thursday, moving people and crops to the somewhat less lucrative cotton crops. "The blight upon the reputation of Utania is too great. We are promoted worldwide as purveyors of cancer, instead of international arbiters of peace and prosperity."

Utania's tobacco agriculture is worth Û9 billion to the local economy, producing 191,000 tonnes of tobacco annually, producing almost forty billion cigarettes and over 300 million tobacco packets. The total industry is worth over Û30 billion, including an estimated C5.5 billion in exports. Furthermore, it is the country's fifth highest agricultural earner, and employs over a quarter of a million people, mostly unskilled workers. Mostly Peoples Party voters.

President Okarvits refused to discuss the proposal with the UACA or journalists, saying that the "cost to Utania would be too high". Preliminary figures from the census are already scaring the government, showing that as many as 20% of Utani, six million workers, are under-employed, and that the agriculture industry is undergoing a collapse.

The cause, speculate analysts (no one has the actual figures yet, is that Utania's traditional export market, Guwimith (under the Empire), is now more heavily reliant on Whitlam, its parent nation. Utania, South Bay and Gvonj are experiencing a sudden and disastrous contraction of their export market, and the local economy is suffering. "Shutting down" the tobacco industry would only worsen the situation.

Twenty million Utanians are said to be smokers according to a recent industry report, mostly working class, poor, and Utani, spending an average of Û15 a week on cigarettes.

Almost 10% of Utania's land is currently covered in cotton farms, employing over 1.2 million people. The cotton industry is worth Û36 billion in the crop alone, but that industry is also suffering.

©UPA, 301 AP.

©Mike Ham, 2001. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)