x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Rules up in smoke as making people quit is tough

Drafting a law is one thing, enforcing it is quite another. As Chinese authorities are about to find out, getting 300 million smokers to quit puffing in the world's most populous nation will be no easy task.

Drafting a law is one thing, enforcing it is quite another. As Chinese authorities are about to find out, getting 300 million smokers to quit puffing in the world's most populous nation will be no easy task.

As of yesterday, an indoor smoking ban in China came into effect, although scepticism remains about whether the general public will respect the new rule.

European countries have enforced smoking bans with varying levels of success, but the rest of the world has had a tougher time. And the UAE is no different. Smoking in malls may have been curbed in theory, but many public indoor areas and restaurants still have ambiguous policies.

Last December the UAE's Ministry of Health warned that almost 40 per cent of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 15 are smokers. Law 15, issued in 2009 by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the UAE, prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 18 and gives vendors the right to ask for proof of age. In theory, selling cigarettes to minors could land offenders in jail for at least one year and/or incur a fine between Dh100,000 and Dh1 million.

And yet the problem persists, among both children and adults. Cigarettes are easy to buy, and are cheap. If smoking is to be seriously curbed, stricter application of public bans need to be exercised, as does greater sale restrictions and parental vigilance.