World Health Organization recommends raising cigarette prices in Azerbaijan
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended raising the price of tobacco products in Azerbaijan.
Why? The organization estimates that of the 1.3 million smokers in Azerbaijan, half of them may not make it to 70 years old.
This, says the head of the Azerbaijani WHO office Dr Hande Harmanci, is largely because tobacco products are too cheap and affordable in the country.
This includes hookah products as well. The World Health Organization says that just one hour of hookah smoking is equivalent to about 40 cigarettes.
However, the cost of cigarettes has almost doubled in the past two years in Azerbaijan, and now an average pack costs an average of 2.50 manat (almost $1.50). For comparison: in the Baltic states, the same cigarettes cost 3.5 euros ($4), and in France arpund 8 euros ($9).
Smokers object to the idea, noting:
– their salaries are lower than European salaries, and
– few people will smoke less, instead they will just switch from expensive brands to cheap ones.
As for neighboring countries, the cost of cigarettes has already increased in Georgia on the advice of the WHO. Now they cost $1.50-2.20 per pack.
In Armenia, the price is about the same, though a proposal to quintuple the price had been discussed before.
In 2017, Azerbaijan also banned smoking in public places, though the law is not observed in all establishments.