The Qatari government imposed a 100% tax rate on all tobacco products in 2019.
Qatar is among a list of Arab countries that spends the least on tobacco products in the Middle East, according to recent research, as cited by The Peninsula.
In 2023, Qatar’s average yearly per capita spending stood at approximately $22.6, less than Jordan which was $120.5, Egypt at $86.7, Saudi Arabia at $68.1, the United Arab Emirates at $43, and Kuwait at $31.3, Fitch Solutions said.
The Gulf state’s overall annual spending stood at $70 million, starkly contrasting with the top spenders on the list.
With total yearly expenditures of $9.77 billion, $2.52 billion, and $2.15 billion respectively, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia had the highest levels among Arab nations.
Marking World No Tobacco Day on Wednesday, Hamad Medical Centre’s (HMC) Tobacco Control Center Director Dr Ahmad Al Mulla said that “Qatar is one of the countries that do not encourage the cultivation of tobacco or manufacturing of tobacco products.”
Instead, Qatar participates in international tobacco control agreements and provides treatment services, including numerous clinics that have been opened to assist smokers in quitting using medicine and behavioral therapy, Al Mulla detailed.
Earlier this year, the selling of cigarettes and other tobacco products without valid and activated digital tax stamps was outlawed by Qatar’s General Tax Authority.
The finance ministry said a “selective tax” was to be levied on products that harm people’s health. In 2019, the Qatari government imposed a 100% tax rate on all tobacco products.
Meanwhile, health authorities also said Qatar’s tobacco smoke pollution is “nearly non-existent”.
Dr Kholoud Al Mutaweh, Head of the Non-Communicable Diseases Department at Ministry of Public Health also attributed the low smoke pollution to the strict measures authorities take to limit smoking.
Doha has several tobacco control centres scattered across the country, including one at Al Wakra hospital and another at Hazm Mebaireek hospital.
In 2021, the HMC’s Tobacco Control Centre saw a 300% surge in people visiting the facility to quit smoking during the pandemic.
The research comes as the United Nations agency World Health Organisation granted Qatar the WHO Award for World No Tobacco Day for its success in making the 2022 FIFA World Cup “a smoke-free tournament by applying strict measures” at stadiums and fan areas.