Happy Mauritius - islanders drink and puff less By LINLEY BIGNOUX in Port-Louis | Thursday, August 15   2013 at  17:28

Cases of smoking and drinking have declined dramatically in the last three years in Mauritania. PHOTO | AFP. 

New figures released by the Mauritian Health ministry show the island nation is smoking and drinking less.

That is the effect of a tax imposed on cigarettes and alcoholic drinks, which has brought a dramatic drop in the intake of the two vices.

According to the ministry of Health report, the last three years have witnessed a sharp decline in the amount of cigarettes sold in the country, coupled with a weakening in alcoholic beverage sales.

The report was released by The National Agency for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Substance Abusers (Natresea), a unit under the Health ministry.

The findings indicate that the island nation has since 2009 been importing fewer sticks of cigarettes, compared to previous years. National consumption in 2009 stood at 1.3 billion sticks, dropping to about 1 billion last year.

In the same period, prices of cigarettes increased steadily. Officials have linked the prices to the decline, an indication that higher prices of the items could act as an effective deterrence.

Sales were also affected, from $251.2 million in 2009 to $291. 4 million pocketed last year, partially reflecting the impact of a tobacco tax introduced in 2011.

Beer consumption

On drinking, the report found a decrease in alcohol consumption, from 41 litres per capita in 2009 to about 38 litres capita in 2012.

Consumption of spirits such as rum and whiskey, traditionally popular among Mauritian drinkers went down from 13.4 million litres in 2009 compared to 12.5 million litres consumed in 2012. Beer intake was also hit, sliding from 36.9 million litres in 2009 to 36.4million litres in 2012.

Revenues derived from wine sales declined sharply from $170,048 in 2009 to just over $140,096 last year.

On average, 35 per cent of the country’s population smokes with around 16 per cent of Mauritian men being heavy “drinkers”, according to the ministry of Health.