High taxes = low smoking

| January 31, 2018

The United Arab Emirates should raise taxes on tobacco to curb smoking and tobacco use, a researcher said during the Arab Health Conference in Dubai yesterday, according to a Gulf News story.

Professor Scott Sherman, associate professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine, said the higher the taxes, the lower the tobacco use rate.

The visiting US expert conducts regular research in the UAE, which in October imposed a 100 percent excise tax on tobacco.

Prices were pushed even higher after a five percent Value Added Tax was levied from January 1 on most goods, including cigarettes.

The Times said that, extrapolating World Health Organization estimates, the impact of the tax rises should see tobacco consumption falling by 40 percent.

It quoted the WHO as saying in September that a tax increase that raised tobacco prices by 10 percent reduced tobacco consumption by about four percent in high-income countries.

In the UAE, home to about 10 million people, the prevalence of smoking among those aged 15 or more is 28.6 percent in the case of men and 0.7 percent in the case of women, according to WHO.

Sherman said also that the UAE had taken “wonderful steps in the right direction” when it came to banning tobacco advertisements and placing graphic warnings on cigarettes packs.

However, he added, the country should “broaden clean-air laws” by completely banning smoking inside “restaurants and bars”, doing away with “smoking enclaves”.

“If Ireland can go smoke-free [indoors], which has a pub culture, there’s no reason it can’t be done here,” Sherman was quoted as saying.

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Category: Breaking News, Tax

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