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Jordan, July 10, 2019
Officials mull raising tobacco prices after WHO report

AMMAN — The government will be looking into raising the price of smoking-related products, particularly argileh, in an effort to “cut down on smoking rates”, it said on Tuesday.

“Shisha, vapes and electronic cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular, possibly more so than cigarettes, which is putting the health and economics of citizens at risk,” MP and head of the Lower House's Health Committee Eisa Khashashneh, said in a statement made available to The Jordan Times.

Jordan is the second most smoking-dependent country in the world after Indonesia, and first regionally, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In a meeting held on Monday to discuss the findings of an international study titled, “Economic Investment Case of Tobacco Control in Jordan”, the WHO found that Jordan had incurred losses of JD1.6 billion in 2015, representing 6 per cent of its overall GDP, due to the widespread consumption of tobacco.

In previous statements to The Jordan Times, WHO Representative to Jordan Maria Cristina Profili said that the Kingdom may have become number one in terms of the number of smokers globally, as Indonesia’s smoking rate has fallen recently and Jordan’s has risen.

After the meeting, which discussed how the country can begin to reverse its high economic loss due to tobacco use by implementing “cost-effective tobacco control measures”, several MPs said that raising prices, as well as raising awareness could be of use.

MP Khaled Bakkar said: “Availability of shisha at low prices is certainly a barrier to decreasing the rates.”

“We have to find a way to protect the investment of shop and restaurant owners, but also protect the health of our citizens and the Kingdom’s GDP.”

As for the Greater Amman Municipality, the city is 'cracking down on shops serving shisha to minors and is currently not approving any new shisha licences,' Deputy City Manager for Health and Agriculture Mervat Mheirat told The Jordan Times over the phone.