Smokers in the UAE say a massive price spike for a pack of cigarettes set for October 1 is making them rethink on what is fast becoming a very expensive habit.
In a small sampling of cigarette consumers by Gulf News, the new excise tax of 100 per cent to be imposed on cigarettes drew mixed reactions with only one out of four saying they will quit entirely to avoid spending more money.
Of the rest, some said they would continue to indulge but will smoke less, some others said they would try to quit, while others said they would seek alternatives such as electronic “vape” devices that use liquid to deliver nicotine to the user.
Mohammad Hoseh, 38, of Jordan said he would definitely quit smoking and didn’t want to spend any more money on a habit that has the potential to ruin his health.
“I am quitting for sure. I have been thinking about it for weeks, but I will certainly quit when the new tax comes in at the end of the month,” said Hoseh during a morning smoke break at a local mall in Dubai. “Why would I want to pay more money for something that is going to kill me? I will not be smoking, that’s for sure.”
Patrick Aldovino, 31, a Filipino cook living in Dubai, said his budget was limited and he was not sure he could really afford another financial hit, despite the fact that he enjoys smoking cigarettes.
“This tax increase is enough to make me think about quitting. I was already thinking of switching to vaping because it is healthier and cost far less money but maybe this new tax has already made the decision for me to change,” he said.
Aldovino said he doesn’t fault the government for raising prices noting that it is in public interest to bring in measures that encourage people to quit bad behaviours that affect their health.
“It is a good idea because some people will definitely quit smoking because they don’t want to spend their money and that means they will be healthier,” Aldovino said.
Yasmin Alahmad, 38, is a Syrian national living in Dubai who smokes a package of 20 cigarettes every three days.
“No, I’m not going to quit and I will have to pay more but I am not happy with it. I don’t think a lot of people are quitting because of this. Some are switching to vape and shisha because it’s not so expensive,” Alahmad said.
Olga Zaidan, 25, a Syrian national in Dubai, said she smokes cigarettes, but uses up more tobacco using her midwah pipe on a daily basis.
She isn’t planning on quitting or cutting back because for her it is a lifestyle choice that she enjoys.
“I will not stop smoking cigarettes, and I will stick with my midwah. Maybe I will buy more cigarettes from Dubai International Airport because its cheaper,” Zaidan said.