Kuwait mulls tobacco tax hike

The Ministry of Health is considering increasing the tax on tobacco & removing the subsidy on sugar in a bid to improve residents’ health

Kuwait may increase the tax on tobacco products and cancel subsidies for sugar under proposals being considered by the Ministry of Health.

The moves would help prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country but would require Cabinet approval, Ministry of Health Undersecretary Khaled Al Sahlawi told the United Nations during a meeting in New York to discuss progress on the 2011 political declaration on NCDs.

“The Ministry is considering a number of ideas, before presenting them to the cabinet to take a decision, to end government’s subsidy on sugar while providing people with a healthier alternative,” Al Sahlawi said, according to state media agency KUNA.

“These ideas also include increasing tax on tobacco products to reduce smoking as Kuwait has one of the world’s lowest tobacco tax rates.”

A packet of cigarettes in most Gulf states costs a couple of dollars, compared to about $20 in some Western countries, which have significant tobacco taxes.

Al Sahlawi also said the ministry was working with education authorities to raise student awareness about the health implications of smoking.

He said the government already had persuaded bakeries to reduce salt in bread by 20 percent to prevent high blood pressure and other vascular diseases.

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