Bahrain: Buying frenzy by smokers on eve of new tax

SEVERAL supermarkets across Bahrain reported panic buying of cigarettes last night, on the eve of the ‘sin tax’ coming into force.

From today, excise tax on selected items classified as harmful products will be implemented. The prices of tobacco products and energy drinks will go up by 100 per cent and soft drinks will cost 50pc more.

Smokers were seen queuing at supermarkets yesterday to snap up their favourite brand of cigarettes, but most were left fuming to find the shelves empty.

“A lot of customers have been stocking up on cigarettes, either by buying large quantities from cold stores or asking their friends to get their supplies from the duty free for weeks now,” said Bahraini Hussain Jassim. “There is now a shortage in the market as everyone knows the tax will be applied from Saturday.”

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Meanwhile, a list obtained by the GDN of new prices that will go into effect from today shows that popular soft drinks like Pepsi and 7UP (355ml) and Coca Cola (330ml) will now cost 225fils compared with 150fils previously, while Vimto Fruit Can (250ml) that was 100fils will now be 150fils and the popular Rani Spark Mix Fruit Can will now cost 450fils compared with 300fils.

Furthermore, a 250ml Red Bull Energy can that used to cost 650fils will now cost BD1.300, while Monster Energy Drink (355ml) that used to cost 600fils will be BD1.200.

Majority of the popular brands of cigarettes like Marlboro Touch, Davidoff Classic and Dunhill Blue are now priced at BD2 a pack compared to BD1, while other brands of tobacco have increased from BD1.100 to BD2.200.

According to the list that covers more than 900 items, the maximum price difference is among Panter Filter Dessert 10S, Montecristo Mini Blue 10S, Montecristo Mini Aroma and Montecristo Mini Aroma 10S that have all increased from BD16.600 to BD33.200. The GDN reported yesterday that rogue traders were reportedly selling cigarettes at higher prices even before the “sin tax” was implemented.

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The higher prices are aimed at encouraging people in Bahrain to opt for healthy products, reduce the consumption of harmful goods, enhance social awareness and alleviate the financial burden resulting from treatment of serious diseases.

The selective tax was approved by GCC countries at a summit in 2015. According to the new law, traders wishing to import or produce such goods are required to submit an application to the Finance Ministry by January 15, 2018.

Source Credit: Gulf Daily News

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