Gulf oil producers are considering raising cigarette prices by 100 per cent as part of a drive to cut consumption, a Saudi daily has said.
“Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries have discussed the possibility of increasing cigarette prices by 100 per cent…this means the pack of cigarettes in Saudi Arabia could reach SR14 ($3.8),” the online Arabic language daily Burnews said.
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have raised tobacco prices many times over the past decade while most of them have banned smoking in public places within a campaign to reduce consumption.
The six members rely mostly on imported tobacco and this means a pack of western- made cigarettes in the UAE could rise to Dh14.
Burnews said smoking drains more than SRfive billion from Saudi Arabia’s coffers annually because of treatment costs besides other losses, including fires associated with cigarettes.
It cited figures by the civil defence showing over 2,570 such fires occurred in Saudi Arabia last year.
According to the report, around 6.2 million people are smokers in Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy and the world’s top oil exporter. The number accounts for nearly 34 per cent of the Kingdom’s national population, spending more than SR12 billion on cigarettes and tobacco a year.
“The Saudi Heart Association expects the number of smokers in the kingdom to rise to more than 10 million in 2020.”