Cigarette prices may further drain wallets

By: Amina Nazarli

Anti-smoking advocates and health experts hailed the recent government proposals that aim to decrease the number of smokers in Azerbaijan.

Musa Guliyev, a member of the Parliamentary Committee has offered to fine people who smoke at home near children and in the doorways of houses.

Guliyev underlined the necessity of adopting a law restricting smoking in public places along with the law “On tobacco and tobacco products”, which was adopted in Azerbaijan in 2001.

Tobacco is one of the main sources of a number of chronic diseases, including cancers, lung and cardiovascular diseases. A number of countries have already adopted legislations to restrict tobacco advertising, and regulating who can buy and use tobacco products, and even where people can smoke.

Most of the smoking population in Azerbaijan are men. About 50 percent of men in the country smoke daily, 40 percent of them smoke at least one or two packs of 20 cigarettes per day.

Experts assure that the growing price of tobacco products has also turned into an effective measure against smoking in the world.

World Health Organization framework convention on tobacco control, the participants almost unanimously voted to increase the share of excise duty on the cost of a pack of cigarettes to 70 percent (excluding VAT).

Rufat Guliyev, a Chairman of the European Tobacco Baku (ETB) Company (Azerbaijani producer of tobacco production) said Azerbaijan may also join this campaign in the future.

“Active integration into Europe and the world economy, as a whole, will certainly affect the prices of cigarettes. In any case, this is the government which should take the final decision about. However, in my opinion, Azerbaijan will soon face the need to raise the price of cigarettes. Talking about the exact timing is not possible yet,” the chairman noted.

The share of excise duty on the price of a cigarette pack of 12.5 percent, while in Russia it reaches 40 percent and in Great Britain, up to 70 percent.

Guliyev stressed that growth of cigarette prices within the countries-importers will not spark a particular concern in Azerbaijan.

“In Azerbaijan local production covers up to 20-25 percent of its own consumption of tobacco products, whereas the potential capacity of European Tobacco allows to cover the consumption at 80-85 percent.

The chairman supposes that the issue is rooted in the cigarette’s brand. Last year Azerbaijan imported cigarettes of an amount of 146 million dollars from Russia.

“As the welfare of population is growing, people prefer expensive cigarette brands. I think that it should not affect import prices, as the increase in the share of excise duty usually affects the prices in the domestic market,” Guliyev said.

The expert points to the increasing price of raw material as the main reason behind the rise in cigarette price.

“In Europe, tobacco planting is forbidden and tobacco production moves to Latin American and African countries. As the raw materials are getting expensive, delivering costs are also increasing. So, the producers have to raise the price of their products,” he cited.

Increase of tobacco production depends on several factors such as agreements with multinational cigarette manufacturing companies, market demands and prices of raw materials.


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