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Will new regulations deal a blow to Palestine’s local tobacco industry?

The Palestinian government approved a plan to regulate the local tobacco industry to increase tax revenue and end the chaos plaguing the market.
Palestinian farmer Saleh Hamarsheh carries dry tobacco in his field to make local cigarettes in the town of Ya'bad near the West Bank city of Jenin September 22, 2014. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini (WEST BANK - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR4795L
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RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinian government ratified a plan Feb. 28 to regulate the tobacco sector in an attempt to improve the quality of locally grown tobacco, restructure prices, protect farmers and local companies, fight tax evasion and cigarette smuggling and increase government revenue.

In the northern West Bank, especially in the Jenin governorate, hundreds of Palestinians independently plant, harvest and distribute locally grown tobacco, popularly called “Arab tobacco,” to meet the high demand driven in part by low prices. A pack of Arab tobacco sells for $1.50, while a pack of imports sells for $5.50. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, in April 2016, some 23.5% of Palestinian youths were smokers, with 29.5% of them in the West Bank and 14.9% in the Gaza Strip.

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