Dubai to slap 200 per cent tax on cigarettes

Dubai will be imposing a 200 per cent tax on cigarettes by August that officials hope will deter smokers and indirectly reduce the burden of cardiovascular diseases in the country.


Asma Ali Zain

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Published: Thu 19 Apr 2012, 8:42 AM

Last updated: Fri 10 Nov 2023, 9:22 AM

Each year, health authorities in the country spend millions of dirhams on treating cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) brought on by smoking, hypertension, physical inactivity and diabetes among a number of other modifiable risk factors. CVDs are also the leading cause of death in the Emirates. One in every four deaths is due to CVDs while smoking causes one tenth of CVD worldwide.

“We will impose the tax on tobacco by August in cooperation with the Dubai Municipality,” announced Qadhi Al Murooshid, Director General of the Dubai Health Authority on the sidelines of the World Cardiology Congress. Currently, a 100 per cent customs tax is in place while branded cigarettes are available from Dh7. With implementation of the tax, the prices are expected to double.

The congress was inaugurated by Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group on Wednesday.

A federal Anti-Tobacco Law is ready but awaits implementation. By August, tobacco products will also be carrying graphic images and warnings that will cover 50 per cent of the packet.

Prof Sidney Smith, President of World Heart Federation seconded the move and said that taxation has shown to reduce smoking among youngsters. “Second hand smoking, or passive smoking also causes equal damage,” he added.

Citing two new economic studies, Prof Smith said that on an average, cost of basic and secondary prevention of CVDs could be placed at $13 billion per year. Pointing to a 2011 report by Bill Gates, Prof Smith said that by adding a few cents as tobacco taxes, governments could raise billions of dollars.

“Ratio of heart disease differs in countries. For example in Dubai the ratio of heart attack is more than stroke due to the high rate of diabetes,” he said.

“Heart disease is not genetic. It is what we eat and it doesn’t have to happen,” he added.

Dr Fahad Baslaib, Head of Cardiology Department at Rashid Hospital and President of the Emirates Cardiac Society said that awareness among the public is not as expected.

“Although 80 per cent of CVDs are preventable, yet they are the leading cause of death worldwide.

“We must act now and there is a need for governments, civil society and the private sector to work together to ensure advocacy and raise awareness levels.”

Over 12,000 delegates from the world over have gathered for the congress that is being held for the first time in the region.

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