The United Arab Emirates (UAE), better known as the nation Dubai makes part of, is notorious for being relatively tax free and for still selling cigarettes at ridiculously low prices. However, as from the 1st of October a radical change is set to take place, as an excise tax of 100% on tobacco is being introduced.
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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a 10% tobacco price increase leads to a 4% decrease in consumption. This would equate to a 40% decrease in tobacco use across the nation.
“Tobacco taxes are the most cost-effective way to reduce tobacco use, especially among young and poor people. A tax increase that increases tobacco prices by 10 per cent decreases tobacco consumption by about 4 per cent in high-income countries and about 5 per cent in low- and middle-income countries,” said the WHO, which applauds countries that impose such heavy taxes.
According to a report by the organization, among UAE nationals aged over 15, 28.6% of males and 0.7% females smoke, whilst cigarette prices are significantly low. The cheapest cigarettes are Lucky Strike which sell at Dh3 ( $0.8) a pack, whilst an average brand like Marlboro sells at Dh11 ( $3.00).
Do increased cigarette prices motivate people to quit?
The World Health Organization believes that increased cigarette prices can play a major role in decreasing death rates due to smoking. “Raising tobacco taxes so that they account for at least 70 per cent of retail prices would lead to significant price increases, induce many current users to quit and deter numerous youth from taking up tobacco use, leading to large reductions in the death and disease caused by tobacco use. At the same time, such tax increases will generate significant increases in tobacco tax revenues.”