Bahrain’s Shura Council will vote on whether to allow plans to open tobacco manufacturing factories in Bahrain, reports the Gulf Daily News.
However, the council has stated that products produced at the factories should not be sold in Bahrain; they should only be manufactured for export.
The committee also overturned a ban on the import, production and distribution of juices for e-cigarettes and e-shisha.
“In the past, Bahrain was known to be the regional hub for tobacco productions of numerous types with moasil—a shisha tobacco—being the most famous,” said Zayed Alzayani, industry, commerce and tourism minister. “Nowadays, our Bahraini-flavored moasil is being imported from numerous countries like the [United Arab Emirates], Egypt and Jordan. It is being sold using our traditional nametag across the world.”
“We have gotten a request from some investors, from Bahrain and abroad, to open tobacco manufacturing factories in Bahrain with their investments being more than $300 million and offering 400 jobs for Bahrainis, which would be 98 percent of the total workforce,” Alzayani said. “This move would also help provide beneficiary assistance to our logistics, shipping and cargo sectors.”
Adding tobacco manufacturing would help generate revenue for the government and build necessary infrastructure, according to Alzayani.
Health Ministry officials told the committee that juices are not considered tobacco under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. “We don’t have control over juices since it is not considered tobacco, but that doesn’t mean we cannot monitor the content,” officials added.
Anti-smoking advocates worry that allowing manufacturing would increase the number of smokers in Bahrain.