Muscat: Oman's Ministry of Health has joined the World Health Organisation (WHO) in calling for an increase in tobacco taxation, as the world prepares to observe World No Tobacco Day on Saturday.
Raising taxes on tobacco is the focus of this year's World No Tobacco Day. According to the WHO, taxation is one of the most effective ways of curbing tobacco use. Higher tobacco taxes raise tobacco prices leading to reduction in tobacco consumption. The WHO says that increasing the price of tobacco reduces tobacco use by discouraging initiation among potential users, encouraging current users to quit and helping to prevent relapse in those who have stopped.
The Sultanate's Ministry of Health also believes that one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use is to levy heavier taxes on tobacco products.
"The main reason for the prevalence of tobacco here is that it is widely available at cheap prices. The lowest prices in this region are in this region," said Dr Jawad Al Lawati, senior consultant and rapporteur of the National Tobacco Control Committee at the Ministry of Health.
Speaking to the Times of Oman, Al Lawati said Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have not raised taxes on tobacco products since 2000 while tobacco companies have increased the prices of their products.
According to him, the current tax is 100 per cent of the price shown to customs or OMR10 for 1,000 cigarettes.