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Tobacco, alcohol prices go up

By Omar Obeidat - Feb 05,2014 - Last updated at Feb 05,2014

AMMAN –– Cigarette prices went up by 100 fils per pack as of Tuesday under a government decision to raise taxes on tobacco and alcohol.

Alcoholic drinks will go up by 250 fils per litre, in accordance with the decision, which was approved by a Royal Decree and published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday.

“Any decision to raise the prices of tobacco products and alcohol is usually issued by a special bylaw that should be approved by a Royal Decree,” a government official told The Jordan Times.

The prices of tobacco flavoured with molasses also went up by JD1.2 per kilo.

According to the official, who preferred anonymity, taxes on cigarettes represent around 75 per cent of the value of the product.

In late 2012, several local tobacco manufacturers lowered the prices of cigarettes, a measure they said was aimed at competing with cigarettes smuggled into the Kingdom.

There are seven tobacco manufacturers in Jordan.

However, they cannot lower cigarette prices without the approval of the government.

The reduction in tobacco prices in 2012, which ranged between 20 per cent and 30 per cent, outraged the Health Ministry and public health advocates, who said lower prices would increase the prevalence of smoking in the country.

At the time, the Health Ministry said the decision to lower prices was against the country’s obligations under the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which Jordan adopted in 2006.

Official figures show that spending on smoking in Jordan is on the rise.

Total household spending on tobacco and cigarettes in the Kingdom reached JD480.7 million in 2010, compared with JD352.3 million in 2008, according to a Department of Statistics report.

A study on the prevalence of smoking in Jordan conducted in 2007 showed that approximately 29 per cent of Jordanians above the age of 18 are smokers, in addition to 14 per cent of children in the 13-15 age bracket, 23 per cent of whom smoke argileh.

Feras Hawari, director of the cancer control office at the King Hussein Cancer Centre, said last month that Jordan has the highest prevalence of smoking in the region.

He said that 5,000 cancer cases are diagnosed in the Kingdom annually, with 40 per cent of them resulting from smoking.

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