The Health Ministry has revealed that 44 percent of the Maldivian population use tobacco – an increase from 24 percent in 2004 and the highest percentage in the region.
According to figures published by the Ministry to mark International No Tobacco day, tobacco is responsible for 27 percent of all deaths in the country.
Approximately around 347 million cigarettes are imported into the country annually, the equivalent of 53 tonnes.
Statistics show that overall tobacco use prevalence is high compared to international standards with 57 percent of men and 29 percent of women having used some form of tobacco, with the number of female smokers on the rise.
Based on the import figures, the average Maldivian smoker consumes 2312 cigarettes a year – approximately six a day.
Unlike many countries which already impose strict supply controls and high prices on tobacco products, the Maldives has long enjoyed cheap rates with a pack easily available from shops between Rf18-25 (US$1.16-1.62), subject to brand, while a single cigarette costs one rufiya.
Following rise in import duty in the Maldives, the cheapest brand is available at almost Rf35 (US$2.27) and a single cigarette costs almost two or three rufiya.
By comparison, a pack of cheap cigarettes costs the equivalent of Rf66 in the USA, Rf112 in the UK and Rf158 in Australia.