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Cigarettes Set for 70% Hike?!

The World Health Organization calls on Egypt to raise taxes on cigarette prices to curb the country's spiraling smoking problem.

Staff Writer

Cigarettes Set for 70% Hike?!

Egypt's smokers are set to be burned by a 70% price hike if controversial new plans light up. UN chiefs plan to table the scheme in an effort to curb Egypt's spiralling cancer rate. The latest World health Organisation data shows that Egypt has the second lowest average for cigarette prices worldwide and the third lowest imposed tax. WHO consultant Dr Fatima El-Awwa has called for 70% tax increase as part of a nationwide smoking clampdown. She said: "A look at the experiences of other countries in the world leaves us without a shred of doubt that there is a direct correlation between increasing the price of tobacco products and an increase in government income."

Dr El-Awwa added that the focus should be on increasing the price of the cigarette pack itself, or the taxes imposed, which should not be lower than 70 percent of the original price. The WHO estimates that if countries in the region raise tobacco prices by 50 percent, more than 785,000 tobacco-related deaths will be avoided yearly and the number of smokers will decrease by 3.5 million. Dr El-Awaa also hit out at the use of tobacco branding in the media despite government efforts to crack down on cigarette advertising.

She added: "The negative effect of such an exposure is far beyond what we ever thought, and it is unfortunately so widespread in Egyptian media that some Egyptian series have been registered to display the use of tobacco more than 200 times." Tobacco tax regulations implemented in Egypt since 2008 have resulted in an increase in government income that exceeded predictions almost fifty-fold.

Health Ministry estimates suggest that there are at least 10 million smokers nationwide.