UAE: How cigarette taxes helped residents quit smoking

On World No Tobacco Day, those who have overcome the addiction share their stories with us

By SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Mon 30 May 2022, 3:40 PM

Last updated: Mon 30 May 2022, 10:34 PM

World No Tobacco Day is celebrated to raise awareness against the harmful effects of the substance on May 31, every year.

This year, residents who have overcome the addiction share their stories with us.

Tax helps residents cut down

Justin (second name withheld to protect identity) is one among many who have quit smoking after UAE implemented the 'sin' tax.

Earlier, he would spend 6 per cent of his salary to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day.

Once the tax was implemented, Justin realised that his expenses shot up. So, he began to cut back by smoking just 10 cigarettes a day.

He then got infected with Covid-19 and had to be hospitalised.

As he recovered, he went through two weeks without a smoke. “I did not have any cigarettes as I returned home and never went out to get more,” he said.

The latest edition of the Tobacco Atlas suggests that the UAE has among the lowest cigarette consumption rates. A graphic shared as part of the report shows that an adult smoker consumes 438 cigarettes a year.

Retailers had earlier told Khaleej Times how cigarette sales have gone down due to the heavy taxes.

Quit smoking for family

Omar Karboui, an Algerian national working as a petroleum engineer in the country, has been a chain smoker for a long time. He had his first cigarette in 2005 and since then he lost the count of number of cigarettes he smokes daily.

In April, Karboui was diagnosed with severe pneumonia and a lung infection.

“Initially, I thought it was a normal fever and would get away in a day or two. I tried to treat myself and had a few tablets. But with days surpassing, the fever was not subsiding. Also, I became weak, started vomiting and coughing” said the 37-year-old Karboui.

Doctors at the hospital concluded that smoking had been the prime reason for the illness. “Doctors told me that smoking is infecting my lungs and I should quit it before it gets severe and lead to any acute or chronic conditions."

“I decided to quit smoking for myself and my family. I have a young family and a cute little daughter. I do not want to struggle with any health issues and spoil the quality of my life,” Said Karboui.

Dr Sandeep Pargi, specialist pulmonology, Aster Hospital, Mankhool said: “Since he was young, and he has developed pneumonia, there were chances that he could develop severe illnesses in the future. Smoking reduces your immunity power and makes you vulnerable to infections,”


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