The latest anti-smoking law in the UAE has banned advertising of tobacco products in newspapers, TV commercials and animations and also placed restrictions on the selling of tobacco.
The regulations are part of the anti-tobacco federal law issued by the Cabinet on July 21 and will come into effect six months from the date of issuance.
According to the law, importing tobacco that is not in line with the UAE’s technical standards will be punishable. Violators will be penalised with a year-long prison sentence and a fine ranging from Dhs100,000 to Dhs1 million.
The law will also bring into effect the much-discussed ban on smoking in the presence of a child under 12 years in a private vehicle.
Tobacco products cannot be displayed near items marketed for children or in the sportswear, food or electronics section.
The legislation also bans the sale of tobacco in locations that are just 100 metres away from a place of worship or 15 metres away from kindergarten schools, universities and colleges.
As per the regulations, all tobacco products have to display a large warning label on packages to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking.
The law also aims to curtail smoking among young people in the UAE. A study carried out in Abu Dhabi showed that 28 per cent of children aged 15 years and younger are smokers while 30 per cent of people aged 18 are smokers.
The anti-smoking ruling also forbids growing tobacco in the UAE for commercial purposes. The 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 alarming rise of the number of smokers in the GCC has become a major cause for concern. Reports estimate that up to four million smokers in the region consume over 50 billion cigarettes annually and cost more than $500 million in healthcare.
There were also reports on increasing tobacco taxes in the GCC region in order to curb the rising levels of smoking. However experts have warned that higher taxes might encourage illicit trade of cigarettes which could grow beyond the control of police and the customs authority.