A new set of regulations in the UAE’s anti-tobacco law have been announced by the Ministry of Health, according to the national news agency WAM. The updates in legislation will come into effect six months from now and are part of the government’s efforts to establish an effective national anti-tobacco strategy.
Among the new regulations approved by UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the banning of smoking in private vehicles if a child younger than 12 years is present in the car. The main drive of the new regulations is aiming to reduce smoking among youth. A study carried out in Abu Dhabi showed that 28 per cent of children aged 15 years or younger, are smokers, while 30 per cent of people aged 18 are smokers.
The law bans any content that advertises tobacco products, such as newspaper advertisements and TV commercials. It also bans importing tobacco products that are not line with technical standards set by the UAE, and any violations regarding such imports can lead to a one year prison sentence and a fine ranging from Dhs100,000 to Dhs1 million, in addition to the confiscation of products.
The law also provides specifications on the packaging of tobacco products. All products must now display a large warning label on the front to raise awareness on the dangers of tobacco. Violators will be fined Dhs100,000 to Dhs1 million, and the fines can be doubled if the offence is repeated.
Tobacco products cannot be displayed near items marketed for children, or sportswear, health, food and electronic products. Tobacco products are also forbidden to be sold in locations that are 100 metres away from places of worship, and 15 metres away from kindergartens, schools, universities and colleges.
Shisha cafes will also have to be at least 150 metres away from residential areas. The regulations also specify that these cafes working hours will be from 10am to 12pm. Shisha will not be served to customers younger than 18 years of age, and the cafes will be forbidden from delivering shisha to apartments.
Growing or producing tobacco for commercial purposes will also be forbidden, and current manufacturing plants have been given a grace period of 10 years to sort out their situation, and tobacco farms have been given a two-year grace period.
The UAE ratified the World Health Organisation s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO, in November 2005. The UAE anti-tobacco law was drafted by the Ministry of Health in 2006. In December 2009, the UAE issued its own federal anti-tobacco law.