Health Tax on Cigarettes Proposed

A ‘health tax’ on cigarettes has been proposed. Should the Cabinet approve it, people in the UAE will have to pay more to smoke, a senior health ministry official said.


Asma Ali Zain

Published: Thu 14 Jan 2010, 12:59 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Dec 2021, 11:40 AM

Key Facts about Tobacco

* Every year, 4.9 million people lose their lives to smoking.

* Every seven seconds, someone in the world dies from a tobacco-related illness.

* Smokers are exposed to over 4000 toxic substances in cigarette smoke. Over 25 of these are known human carcinogens.

* Tobacco causes over 40 diseases, many of them fatal or disabling. Smoking is responsible for over 90% of all cases of lung cancer, 75% of chronic bronchitis and emphysema cases and nearly 25% of cases of ischaemic heart disease. Chewing tobacco causes a significant proportion of oral cancer.

Source: World Health Organisation Website

The proposal is something the recently issued federal Anti-Tobacco Law does not go into and health authorities hope it will pinch enough to deter smokers. Further, collections from the tax could go into treating patients of tobacco-related ailments.

Furnishing details of the law, the Ministry of Health said the Ministry of Finance had already implemented a 100 per cent tax on the import of cigarettes to the UAE. The percentage recommended was 200.

“After intense discussions, the proposal to (have) a 200 per cent tax on cigarettes was not incorporporated in the law for technical reasons,” said Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, Head of the National Tobacco Control Committee at the Ministry of Health.

“If we had pushed for 200 per cent, it would have meant losing business to GCC countries that follow the GCC Customs Law of 100 per cent taxation,” Dr Al Maidoor further said. She headed the team that drafted the new law.

“Now we are looking at an indirect way of increasing the taxes and deterring smokers by implementing a health tax, which is subject to Cabinet approval,” Dr Wedad said.

However, she said the proposal was still being fine-tuned. “We have not decided how much it will be and how it will actually be levied,” she explained.

At present, all tobacco companies have to pay a registration fee to the Ministry of Finance. Soon they will be required to register with the Ministry of Economy as well.

According to the World Health Organisation, the UAE has the lowest cigarette prices in the region, some as low as Dh2, though the average stays at Dh7 for a packet of 20.

“The tax will help the people dying of lung cancer in the UAE each year,” Dr Wedad said.

She further said cigarette companies needed to know that this was an attempt at regulation. “It is impossible to stop the use of tobacco; we just want to regulate it.”

The law also makes it compulsory for companies to insert pictorial warnings on cigarette packs. “The GCC has finally approved five graphics which will be changed every two years,” she said.

In addition, companies need to display data on the levels of tar and nicotine before marketing their product in the UAE.

Also Read

Age limit for tobacco sale likely to be increased to 20

DUBAI - The country is likely to revise the minimum age limit set in the federal law for sale of tobacco products from the current 18 to 20, according to health officials.


Do you think that the proposal to introduce ‘health tax’ on cigarettes
is a step in the right direction? Share your views with us.

Readers' Comments

Awesome. I really don't care if those stupid smokers die. It's the people around them, specially the kids, that suffer or get annoyed. This is a great news for all of us and I'm very happy. This will probably not make them smoke less, but at least I know that they're paying a huge price for smoking their fags and that will help me sleep better at night. In your face you smokers! Hope my co-workers read this! – Norman, Dubai


Wow! This is another great and wise step to avoid tobacco which is so harmful for individuals. -- Malika, RAK


Every year, 4.9 million people lose their lives to smoking. Like they say all drops make a sea. Likewise if all the countries start contributing I am sure many lives could be saved. --Fiza Sohail, Dubai


This move is more than welcome. Increasing the price will surely lower the number of people who smoke. However, as someone already pointed out, the govt. also needs to control the sale of single cigarettes, which is a common practice among groceries. – Farid, Dubai


The Ministry of Health is doing a great service to stop smoking. The tax on import of cigarettes should be 500% to 800%. Cigarettes should be sold only in special cigarettes shops and not in grocery and supermarkets. Smoking should be banned in all areas, public and private so that smokers are restricted and give up smoking. – John Dmello, Sharjah


Great Move. As rightly said even a single dirham matters so smokers have to think twice before buying cigarettes. – Anamika Sandhu, Dubai


Good Decision!!! – Ammar, Dubai


I am very happy with the step taken by UAE Govt to curb smoking and the use of Tobacco. Smoking is dangerous and injurious to health. People should realise the importance of their own life. Save the money which is being used to buy cigarettes for betterment of one’s own family and not by smoking and taking in infectious smoke which damages the lungs. – Mrs. Varghese, Dubai


Why does the UAE have to wait for Ramadan to prohibit smoking in public areas. Why can't it be done otherwise also ? – Fiza, Dubai


Very good proposal, it should be levied worldwide, not only GCC...Cabinet must approve the proposal...Money matters lot, smokers will think twice before they buy a pack of cigarettes. – Imran Qureshi, Dubai


Very good! I believe we are going towards right direction. Please Guys discourage your friends and family members from save their lives. – Amir Javed, Dubai


This is a good step for the young generation, they should stop smoking. – Fahad Pawaskar, Dubai


Why not also discourage small shops and cafeteria from selling lose single cigarettes which encourages smoking too. – Omprakash, Dubai


I thinkit is a great move. If smoking is banned so many lives could be saved. - Rachel, Abu Dhabi


I think the best way to reduce the number of smokers is by restricting the sale of Cigarettes at cafeteria, grocery etc. And cigarettes can be purchased only from Cigar shops. This will prohibit the smokers from getting the enough quantity required. – Oniel, UAE

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