KUWAIT: The new parliament should impose taxes on tobacco and take measures to combat smoking, Director of Mubarak Al-Kabeer health area Waleed Al-Busairi said Wednesday at an event held by the Ministry of Health to raise awareness against growing tobacco.
The campaign was held on the occasion of “World No Tobacco Day” observed by all United Nations member states on May 31. The campaign, said Busairi, aims to alert people to the dangerous effects of smoking on both individuals and society as a whole.
“Kuwait has the lowest prices for cigarettes among all Gulf countries,” said Vice President of the Health Ministry’s National Anti-Smoking Program Dr Ahmad Al-Shatti. He said he hoped Kuwait would mandate higher prices for cigarettes in order to reduce consumption rates in the country, pointing out that smoking is a major contributor to the development of many ailments.
Dr Abeer Al-Bahwa, the Director of the Health Promotion Department and the Campaign Officer, said the campaign aims to urge governments to discontinue subsidies for tobacco cultivation and redirect the savings to support farmers in transitioning to more sustainable crops that enhance food security.
The campaign seeks to raise awareness among tobacco-growing communities regarding the benefits of abstaining from tobacco and cultivating sustainable crops. It supports endeavors to combat desertification and environmental degradation by reducing tobacco cultivation while exposing the industry’s obstruction of sustainable livelihoods.
8 million deaths
Bahwa said tobacco usage accounts for 25 percent of all global cancer-related deaths, with tobacco smokers being 22 times more likely to develop lung cancer compared to non-smokers. “Tobacco is the only preventable cause of illness and death worldwide,” said Bahwa. “(However), it causes more than 8 million deaths every year.” Teaching children and youth about the effects of smoking through health promotion programs at schools, said Busairi, is essential in protecting against future risks. He urged parents to set a good example for their children by refraining from smoking.
Dr Israa Mandani, the head of the Mubarak Al-Kabeer Division in the School Health Department, reaffirmed the commitment of school health awareness programs to combat smoking through informative lectures. A total of 190 lectures were conducted across various middle and secondary schools, she said. — KUNA
How affordable is tobacco in Kuwait?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Kuwait levies an import duty on tobacco products, which amounts to 100 percent of the cost, insurance and freight value.
There is also a minimum specific import duty of KD 8 per 1,000 cigarettes, which has not increased in the last 10 years – despite other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries increasing minimum import duties. The minimum import duty on waterpipe tobacco is KD 3 per kilogram.
What does WHO say about Kuwait’s tobacco policies?
WHO recommends Kuwait decrease the affordability of tobacco, particularly the waterpipe variety.
“A uniform specific excise tax should be implemented on all tobacco products and gradually increased,” said WHO in its recommendations.
“When implemented, the excise tax should be extended to include all tobacco products in order to maximize the reduction in consumption.”
WHO also recommends banning duty-free allowances for tobacco products and earmarking part of tobacco revenue for health or tobacco control.