ABU DHABI // Stricter controls on the sale and use of tobacco come into force this month thanks to new legislation.
Selling tobacco products to under-18s is banned, as is smoking in private cars while a child under 12 is in the vehicle.
Tobacco advertisements are also forbidden under federal anti-tobacco law No 15 of 2009, which is effective from January 21.
Advertisers who flout the rules will face fines of up to Dh1 million.
Underage smoking will incur a fine of between Dh500 and Dh10,000.
Smoking in houses of worship, universities and schools is also banned, as is the sale of sweets that resemble tobacco products and selling tobacco from a vending machine.
“This will help a lot,” said Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, head of the national tobacco control committee at the Ministry of Health.
“We are controlling the advertisement, direct and indirect, of tobacco and making sure that many public places are now completely 100 per cent smoke free.”
Dr Al Maidoor believes the strict controls on where you can buy cigarettes, point of sale policies and a crackdown on the advertisement of tobacco will mean smoking trends will eventually die out.
“This new legislation will mean the next generation, they will not go into smoking,” she said. “We are educating the community about the health risks associated with tobacco.
“People will find it difficult to smoke in a lot of places now. In this way you will prevent the children of tomorrow from smoking.”
Existing tobacco farms in the UAE will have to conform to the new regulations within two years and production factories have been given 10 years to comply.
Dr Al Maidour said a draft resolution was presented to the Cabinet regarding the creation of a national anti-tobacco committee. It is expected to be issued in the near future.
The committee would include members from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of the Environment and Water and the Federal Customs Authority, who would oversee the enforcement of the anti-tobacco law.
Dr Al Maidoor said the Ministry of Health had prepared a draft resolution to ban smoking in the ministry’s hospitals, primary health centres and specialised treatment centres.