Smoking in the region
Tobacco kills more than five million people every year; Gulf nations are taking measures to help people kick the habit.
July 1, 2009 3:49 by Aarti Nagraj
The GCC Committee for Tobacco Control is currently proposing a 200 percent tax on tobacco and its products. If implemented, the proposal could double the price of a cigarette pack from AED6 to AED12.
On World No Tobacco Day on May 31 this year, more than 10,000 people pledged to stop smoking in the UAE. The no-smoking campaign was launched in labor accommodations, shopping malls, schools and also went online on Facebook and Twitter.
“It has been a successful initiative by all standards,” Wedad Al Maidoor, head of the National Tobacco Control Committee, Ministry of Health, said in a statement.
From September 2009 onwards, the UAE is planning to use graphic images on tobacco products in the country to reduce the number of smokers in the country. Pictures of blackened lungs and hemorrhage-impacted brains accompanied by sharp warnings about the ill-effects of smoking will be placed on the products.
In September 2007, the UAE became the first country in the Middle East and Africa to approve the prescription of Champix, a non-nicotine treatment, designed to help people to quit smoking.
Earlier this year, Saudi announced that smokers in the kingdom will have to pay an increased premium for their health insurance policies. The health minister, Hamad Al Manie, directed insurance companies to sort out between smokers and nonsmokers, and to charge an additional premium for smokers since they fall in a high-risk class.
Al Manie has also said that his ministry would not entertain any business transactions from tobacco companies in the future. “The companies will not be given medical licenses to operate as the ministry’s contractors,” he said adding that the rule applies to individuals who are board members of such companies as well.