UAE residents stock up on cigarettes amid new tax rules

Excise duty came into force on Sunday, doubling the price of tobacco and energy drinks
Excise duty came into force on Sunday, doubling the price of tobacco and energy drinks
By Sarah Townsend
Sun 01 Oct 2017 11:38 AM

Packets of cigarettes were reportedly in short supply in the UAE over the weekend ahead of country’s excise duty on ‘harmful products’ coming into force on Sunday.

The UAE’s Excise Tax, which was introduced today, increased the price of tobacco and energy drinks by 100 percent, and fizzy drinks by 50 percent.

Under the changes, the average price of soft drinks will increase from AED1.50 to AED2.25, while the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes will double from AED8 to AED16.

UAE residents are thought to have stockpiled certain goods in advance, diminishing supplies at retailers.

Sources told Arabian Business they struggled to purchase cigarettes at the weekend because they were in such short supply. Some visited up to four shops before they found what they were looking for.

One resident, MJ, said: “I went to four groceries/supermarkets this weekend, in Ajman, Sharjah and Dubai. They all had run out of all the most famous [brands of] cigarettes, like Marlboro, Parliaments and Dunhill.

“All the cartons were gone, except for some [lesser known] brands. Same thing for single packets.

“I finally found a few packets of Marlboro Gold in Zoom on Saturday. Today I went to the same shop and they were all sold out.”

Another resident, AS, said: “I tried to buy cigarette cartons on Saturday, searched two shops in Sharjah and Dubai, couldn’t find any Marlboro packets at all. So I ended up buying another brand that was at least available in packets.”

Another resident, LJ said the shopkeeper had told him they were all sold out of cigarettes.

“I went to buy cigarettes in Dubai, in Remraam community, on Saturday and found only two packs of Davidoff, but all the cartons of most brands were sold,” he said.

“I asked ‘how come’, the shopkeeper said ‘we’re all sold out, from customers’.”

The so-called “sin tax” took effect from October 1 and is a precursor to the more general value added tax (VAT) on goods and services which is set to be implemented on January 1.

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