Authorities in Dubai have announced hiking the price of cigarettes from August as part of their wider campaign to reduce cardiovascular diseases in the emirate and counter under-age tobacco usage.
Tobacco products in Dubai cost an average AED8 (US$2.2), but the tax will double the prices up to AED16.
The government move comes in line with measures introduced by the neighbouring states where cigarettes are more expensive.
“We will impose the tax on tobacco by August in cooperation with the Dubai Municipality,” Qadhi Al Murooshid, Director General of the Dubai Health Authority, said on the sidelines of the World Cardiology Congress.
The overall price of smoking is still low compared to other countries in the world despite the fact that the UAE currently imposes a 100% customs tax on all imported tobacco products.
The debate about the negative effects of smoking has spread far and wide in the country during recent years thanks to awareness campaigns waged by the public health authorities.
Local businesses and government officials have taken several concrete steps towards curbing smoking in public places.
In 2009, the Dubai government banned individuals from smoking shisha pipes in all public recreational areas, including parks and beaches. It is also considering an introduction of designated smoking areas in public spaces.
A federal anti-tobacco law was issued in 2010 which gave cafes and restaurants located in residential neighbourhoods two years to move or ban smoking. The law mandated non-residential outlets to create designated smoking areas within the stipulated timeframe.
The Dubai Municipality announcement added that all tobacco products in Dubai will also be carrying bigger graphic images and warnings, covering 50% of the packet.