POLL BACKS HIGHER CIGARETTE TAXES Even people in tobacco-growing states such as North Carolina and Kentucky favor increasing United States taxes on cigarettes to pay for health-care reform. The Gallup Organization found that increasing the federal taxes on tobacco is almost as popular in "tobacco alley" as other parts of the country, Monitor staff writer Ron Scherer reports. The poll found that nearly 72 percent of the adults polled in tobacco states favor increasing the tax compared with 73 percent nationally. The largest percentage of tho se polled favored a hike of 50 cents a pack. This was the first poll taken since the tobacco industry mailed out millions of flyers opposing a tax increase to smokers, retailers, and gasoline station owners. The new poll found that even 40 percent of smokers favor an increase in the tax. EC urges diplomacy

The European Community's 12 foreign ministers sought yesterday to increase pressure on the Bosnian Serbs through their ally Serbia and to press Washington for more time before agreeing on military action to halt the bloodshed. The ministers met with their peace negotiator, Lord Owen, who again cautioned against US proposals for air strikes on Bosnian Serb positions and arming the beleaguered Muslims. "We have always said that military intervention in those countries will not bring any solution," Greek Fo reign Minister Michail Papaconstantinou said. EC gives on trade

In a concession to prevent a US-Europe trade war, EC foreign ministers agreed yesterday to ease curbs on US companies bidding for EC government contracts, endorsing an earlier deal between officials on both sides. An article in the EC public utilities directive giving a degree of preference to EC firms over foreign bids will no longer be applied to bids from American makers of heavy electrical equipment. West German solidarity

Thousands of engineering workers in western Germany staged spontaneous protest demonstrations yesterday to support the controversial week-old metalworkers strike in the east. The IG Metall union said 22,000 workers at four Daimler-Benz plants near Stuttgart in the prosperous west had stopped work, for the most part without pay, for up to two hours. Landslide in Ecuador

At least 200 people were killed in a landslide Sunday in a remote area of southern Ecuador near the Peruvian border when a mountainside gave way in torrential rains and buried a small gold-mining village, Civil Defense officials said yesterday. Details on the accident were still sketchy since communications were difficult, and no official death toll was available. Japan raises questions

A Japanese official asked the United Nations mission chief in Cambodia today to improve security for his nation's peacekeepers, some of whom are pleading to be withdrawn in the face of escalating attacks on UN personnel. The head of the UN operation, Yasushi Akashi, told reporters the outcome of his meeting with Home Affairs Minister Keijiro Murata was "very good." The Khmer Rouge, which is boycotting a legislative vote planned for May 23-28, is suspected in most of the attacks, and troops from other nat ions are also very concerned. Executive pay falls

Chief executive officers of the 800 biggest US corporations received median pay of $1.2 million last year, due in part to lucrative stock options, according to Forbes magazine. But the median salary and bonus for all CEOs actually declined 14 percent last year, to $806,000 from $942,000 the year before. And International Business Machines Corporation unveiled yesterday a new generation of the IBM PS/1 line of computers for home and small business. The faster machines go out to a market that has been diff icult for the business giant in the past.

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