x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Still coughing

The federal tobacco law is a long list of excellent intentions, but none of it does any good until it is put into effect.

Delays in writing regulations and arranging for enforcement have meant that the UAE's praiseworthy 2009 Federal Law on Tobacco Control is still not in effect. You can imagine the impatience of officials in charge of the file, who have been pushing for at least parts of the law to be phased in.

This week we reported on plans to require grisly warning labels on cigarette packets, showing lungs and other human organs damaged by smoking. Arrangements are said to be progressing, but there is still no announced date for these packs to be on sale.

Local laws and mall policies against smoking, meanwhile, suffer from chronic failure of enforcement, and tobacco continues its deadly work.

The law promises a long list of worthwhile reforms - a ban on tobacco advertising, fines for selling tobacco to those under 18, no smoking in private cars when children are aboard, no smoking in any educational, health or sports facilities, the power to ban smoking in other public places and more, including provision to raise retail prices, which has proven elsewhere to be an effective deterrent especially to young people. All this has been delayed.

Wary as we are of excess regulation, we believe that tobacco is such a dangerous substance that it deserves tough treatment - but actual, enforced tough treatment. The sooner this law takes effect, the better.