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Cancer centre warns against reducing cigarette prices

By JT - Dec 11,2012 - Last updated at Dec 11,2012

AMMAN — The King Hussein Cancer Centre (KHCC) on Tuesday warned against reducing the prices of tobacco products, which cause heart and cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

These diseases are directly linked to smoking, which is responsible for 30 per cent of cancer cases in Jordan, a KHCC statement said.

Earlier this month, local tobacco companies informed the Income and Sales Tax Department that they plan to reduce the prices of cigarettes in a bid to compete with smuggled cigarettes, which they say have negatively impacted the industry.

"This request may seem innocent if painted in this light, but we at the KHCC would like to stress that such proposals emanate from tobacco companies' policies to seek high profits at the expense of health," the statement quoted Firas Hawari, head of the centre's cancer control office, as saying.

"It is medically known that difficult political, social and economic conditions, in addition to the increase in tension and stress, are some of the main reasons that drive a person into consuming highly addictive drugs, particularly tobacco," Hawari added.

He noted that the current circumstances are "an opportunity" for these companies to achieve great profits and increase their sales at the expense of citizens and the "homeland's interests".

Last week, the Ministry of Health said reducing cigarette prices by 15 per cent will affect its efforts to reduce smoking in the Kingdom.

“We will write to the finance minister to reject this proposal as it will destroy our efforts,” Malek Habashneh, director of the health ministry’s awareness department, said in previous remarks to The Jordan Times.

Habashneh warned that a drop in cigarette prices will encourage children to take up the habit.

According to the 2007 Global Youth Tobacco Survey, 14 per cent of school students aged between 13 and 15 in the Kingdom smoke cigarettes, while 22 per cent smoke argileh.

According to the health ministry, if the government approves this proposal, Jordan’s obligation to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) will be affected.

Obligations to the FCTC include endorsing a national law that combats smoking, carrying out studies on tobacco prevalence and placing health warnings on cigarette packets.

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