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Regional Workshop Discusses Implementation of Tobacco Taxes

Regional Workshop Discusses Implementation of Tobacco Taxes

Regional Workshop Discusses Implementation of Tobacco Taxes


Under the patronage of H.E. Muhsin bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh, Chairman of Muscat Municipality, the Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean of the World Health Organization (WHO) in cooperation with the Ministry of Health (MOH) organized today (Monday) a workshop on the implementation of tobacco taxes in Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) countries at Radisson Blu Hotel.

H.E. Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-saidi, Minister of Health and H.E. Dr. Akjemal Magtymova, WHO Representative to the Sultanate of Oman attended the workshop.

Around 51 Participants from Ministries of Health and Ministries of Finance in the EMR countries along with WHO temporary advisors and staff from the Headquarters and EMRO are gathering in this workshop.

The three-day workshop aims at analyzing the status of taxation in each of the EMR countries, familiarizing the participants with the WHO recommendations in the area of tobacco taxes, introducing the use of WHO tool for measuring of taxation impact and taxation policies, increasing the participants' knowledge about best practices and other countries' experiences in relation to taxation increase including facing the tactics of the tobacco industry in this regards, as well as discussing and agree on possible scenarios of way forward for tobacco taxation policies at national level.

Dr. Akjemal pointed out in her speech that "Key objectives of this workshop are to identify the gaps in the implementation of Article 6 of the WHO FCTC and to agree on ways to scale up, especially for countries that are not meeting the highest standard as per WHO recommendation for this Article".

"In July 2017, WHO released its 6th version of its Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic that presented an alarming picture for our Region, compared with other Regions, EMR has the a very high average smoking prevalence among men and is the only Region that is expected not to see a decline in smoking prevalence between by the year 2025 as per the NCD target. According to current projections, smoking prevalence in EMR will increase between 2010 and 2025 unless something drastic is done" Dr. Magtymova said.

The WHO Representative to the Sultanate looked forward to the outcomes of the deliberations. She also confident that bringing together Ministries of Finance alongside Ministries of Health will infuse a collaborative spirit into this workshop and strengthen Parties’ commitments to implement the WHO FCTC Article 6 at the national level.

Dr. Sulaiman Al-Dhakheel, General Manager of the Gulf Health Council clarified that increasing the taxation on tobacco is the most effective methods to reduce the tobacco use and reduce the demand also, especially with the increasing of tobacco use in the EMR according to the available statistics. He also added that the average price of tobacco is the lowest in comparison to the other regions. A 10% increase in tobacco taxes leads to a 4% reduction in consumption in the high-income countries and 8% in the low-and middle-income countries.

Dr. Al-Dhakheel also pointed out that the huge global burden of tobacco use withers economically or health is increasing and often borne by the countries with low and middle-income economies. He stressed that the main objective of raising taxes is to save lives and help the risk groups.

The workshop touches on the 6 Article of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and the status and challenges of tobacco products taxes. It also highlights the GCC Unified Agreement on Selective Taxes, as well as the countries' experiences including Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia.