As the January 21 deadline of the implementation of the Anti-Tobacco Law approaches, different organisations and civic bodies are readying to take action against violators.
Reinforcement of the Anti-Tobacco Law is off to a smooth start, said a senior health official, and hinted at a ban on news items promoting tobacco use. As the January 21 deadline of the implementation of the Anti-Tobacco Law approaches, different organisations and civic bodies are readying to take action against violators.
The executive regulations were approved by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in Cabinet Resolution No. 24 issued on July 21 this year, and will come into effect on January 21, 2014.
Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, head of the National Tobacco Control Committee at the Health Ministry said she is in talks with the National Media Council (NMC) to prevent indirect promotion of tobacco through newspaper articles. “According to the law and bylaws, direct or indirect promotion of tobacco is prohibited…and I am in talks with the NMC to put a curb on news articles that appear mostly in Ramadan and (about) Ramadan tents,” she said.
She also said the civic bodies, especially the Sharjah Municipality, has already started implementing the law and had recently banned sale of cigarettes in groceries. “Sharjah is the only city in the world that does not have shisha cafes.”
“However, the Dubai Municipality needs to be stricter in implementation especially against shisha cafes in some parts of the city,” said Dr Wedad.
Talking about the ban on smoking in cars with children under 12, Dr Wedad said that it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior to implement this law. “In New York, a person is fined even if caught smoking in a car with only a child seat present,” she added.
The law bans any content that advertises tobacco products. Importation of tobacco products that are not in line with technical standards set by the UAE is not allowed and growing or producing tobacco for commercial purposes is also forbidden.
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 within 100 metres of places of worship, and within 150 metres of kindergartens, schools, universities and colleges.
Shisha cafes will have to be at least 150 metres away from residential areas and their operational timing will also be restricted. Shisha will not be served to customers younger than 18 years, and the cafes will be forbidden from delivering shishas to apartments.
The law also provides specifications on the packaging of tobacco products with a large warning label on the front to raise awareness on the dangers of tobacco.
Violators will be fined Dh100,000 to Dh1 million, and the fines can be doubled if the offence is repeated.