The minimum price for a pack of 20 cigarettes in the UAE will be set at Dh8 from December 1, the Federal Tax Authority announced.
In a move that could help put an end to low quality tobacco products being sold in the country, the authority has called on all businesses registered for Excise Tax to comply with a number of new minimum pricing rules.
Individual cigarettes will carry a 40 fils excise fee from December. And waterpipe tobacco will carry a minimum 10 fils excise charge on every gram, with a starting retail price of at least Dh100 per kilo. Previously, residents could buy a pack of cigarettes for as low as Dh3 in some parts of the country.
The new pricing applies to all brands of cigarettes and locally traded tobacco products.
The move has been welcomed by healthcare specialists in the country, who previously made a rallying cry to the government to raise the prices of the cheapest cigarettes on shop shelves.
"For a long time it has been so cheap to smoke in the UAE," Louisa Kiernander, quit smoking therapist at Mind Solutions in Dubai, told The National.
“While cigarettes are still considerably less expensive here compared to other parts of the world, the rising prices will play a big factor in those looking to give up the habit,” she said.
“Limiting the number of areas where people can smoke will also play a part in encouraging people to quit smoking.”
Since the Excise Tax was introduced in 2017, Iyaad Hasan, a certified tobacco treatment specialist at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said more people are presenting to the clinic with the intention to quit smoking.
“The introduction of Excise Tax, which effectively doubled the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes, has contributed to the number of people seeking to quit through the Smoking Cessation program.”
With the government putting a huge spotlight on the health risks associated with smoking, Mr Hasan said "pressure from family members, health concerns, and the rising costs of tobacco products" are the most common reasons people are looking to kick the habit.
In August, the UAE Government announced that e-cigarettes and vaping devices would be hit with 100 per cent tax, expanding on the earlier introduction of the 2017 excise tax on tobacco. The decision came after the sale of the alternative smoking devices were made legal in the UAE.
The move was intended to reduce consumption of harmful goods and prevent chronic illnesses linked to tobacco among residents in the country
Speaking to The National earlier, Dr Zaid Zoumot, consultant pulmonologist at the respiratory critical care institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said there is somewhere between "a 2.5 to five per cent reduction in smoking" with a 10 per cent increase in price.