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Dubai plans 200% hike in tax on tobacco products

19 April 2012

Dubai: Beginning August, residents of Dubai might have to pay much more to take a puff. The authorities are planning to impose a 200 per cent increase in tax on sale of tobacco products in the markets of the emirate, a top official revealed on Wednesday.

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) considers this will be a revolutionary step to deter the consumers from continuing with smoking, apparently reducing the sales of cigarettes in Dubai, one of the lowest-priced cities for cigarettes, compared to international prices. The present tax on cigarettes in the city is below 100 per cent.

Currently, the average price for a packet of 20 cigarettes in the UAE is Dhs7, while cheap brands are available for as low as Dhs2 in the Emirates. Usually, the price of a cigarette packet in Europe and other parts of the world is higher at about $7.

Speaking at the World Congress of Cardiology in Dubai, Qadhi Saeed Al Murooshid, director-general of the DHA, indicated that the authority is currently preparing for the legislation, which will come into effect in the Emirate from August onwards.

“Dubai Municipality will take necessary steps to implement the new regulation, which is aimed at curbing the consumption of tobacco products among the population,” he added.

“This is in the wake of the fact that the number of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), which is mainly due to the tobacco use, has increased alarmingly, making it the No.1 cause of death in Dubai and the UAE,” elaborated Al Murooshid.

However, there is no immediate nationwide plan to implement 200 per cent increase in tax for tobacco products. Earlier, the Ministry of Finance had applied a 100 per cent tax on the import of cigarettes to the country, even though there was a recommendation for 200 percentage increase, which was not incorporated in the law for technical reasons.

Smoking is estimated to cause nearly 10 per cent of the CVDs, the second leading cause of the CVD, after high blood pressure, says a study issued by the World Heart Federation (WHF) on Wednesday at the World Congress of Cardiology.

Sydney C Smith, President of the WHF, said that tobacco harms the cardiovascular health of smokers and non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke, but significant gaps in knowledge of these risks have been found in studies.

“Non-smokers who breathe secondhand smoke are 25 to 30 per cent more likely to develop CVD. There’s no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, which kills over 600,000 people worldwide each year. Of all adult deaths caused by secondhand smoke, more than 87 per cent were from CVD,” he explained.

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