Turkmenistan’s anti-tobacco drive causes cigarette prices going up


ASHGABAT (TCA) — Cigarettes have again disappeared from state-owned stores in Turkmenistan in April, as the “Month of Health” is being held in the country, the Chronicles of Turkmenistan independent website reports.


Shop assistants report that the verbal instruction was issued in connection with the “Month of Health” held in the country, but starting from May cigarettes are scheduled to be supplied to retail outlets again.

Despite the ban, cigarettes are available almost in all privately-owned stores. However, the price for tobacco products is three times as much. If a pack of cigarettes costs about 20 manats in state-run stores, privately-owned shops sell it at 50 to 60 manats per pack despite the fact that a month ago it was sold at about 40 manats.

According to sources of Chronicles of Turkmenistan, owners of private retail outlets buy boxes of cigarettes in sate-run stores and then sell them with a markup of 100% to 200%.

According to observations, prohibitive measures have little effect on smokers and despite a high price, they have no intention to give up smoking.

“Out of my 25 acquaintances none has given up smoking. All of them still smoke. They spend what they earn on cigarettes, complain about the appalling quality of cigarettes and yet, fail to quit this habit,” a Turkmen citizen told Chronicles of Turkmenistan.

Irregular cigarette supply was recorded in Turkmenistan in early 2016 when the state monopoly on import and sale of tobacco products was legally introduced.

On 14 April 2017 President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov approved the anti-smoking campaign, pursuant to which Turkmenistan is supposed to eradicate smoking by 2025.

Berdymukhammedov has been a proponent of healthy living. In 2013, he banned the sale of cigarettes in state stores during the month of April each year.

Sergey Kwan