Saudi Arabia bans cigarettes without valid tax stamps

The ban comes into effect from November 18



Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Zakat and Tax (GAZT) has imposed a ban on cigarette packs not carrying tax stamps, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The ban, which will come into effect from November 18, will include the prohibition of the sale and circulation of all cigarette packs that do not bear valid tax stamps.

The decision is based on the provisions of the executive regulations of the Selective Tax Law related to tax stamps within the unified agreement on selective tax for GCC states, the statement said.

The regulation will augment supervisory controls on the tax collection of select imported commodities. It will also support the veracity and verification of the import channels.

The imposed taxes, part of selective taxes on products considered harmful to public health, will also ensure that standards set by World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Convention on Tobacco Control are met, the statement added.

Consumers can validate the tax stamps via “Tahaqqaq” (Verify) mobile app, to be launched simultaneously with the tax stamp regulation.

Last month, Saudi Arabia imposed a 100 per cent tax on all restaurant bills that serve shisha. The decision sparked an outrage with many calling for the tax to be levied only on active shisha smokers.

Read: Saudi levies hefty shisha tax, causes outrage among consumers

Saudi’s ministry of health launched an anti-smoking campaign Help Us…We Will Help You in 2018 to combat smoking. Smoking leads to six million deaths annually, expecting to increase to over eight million annually by 2030.