x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Sharjah gets tough on smoking with ban on cigarettes sales in groceries

All groceries in residential areas and near schools in Sharjah are now banned from selling cigarettes, in a move to stop children smoking.

SHARJAH // All groceries in residential areas and near schools in Sharjah are now banned from selling cigarettes, in a move to stop children smoking.

The ban, effective immediately, was passed yesterday in the Sharjah Municipal Council’s eighth session for the year.

Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, head of tobacco control at the Ministry of Health, welcomed the decision.

“It is very good news,” Dr Al Maidoor said. “We cannot prevent children from starting smoking but this will certainly put a barrier in place for children being able to reach for tobacco products in the first place.

“Parents can be ignorant of the problem – they send their own children out to buy cigarettes for them and do not realise when their children start smoking.”

All government departments involved have been authorised to help implement the ban.

Prof Nabil Sulaiman, head of the department of family and community medicine and behavioural sciences at the University of Sharjah’s College of Medicine, also welcomed the move.

Taking tobacco products from grocery stores will remove the peer pressure to smoke from impressionable children, Prof Sulaiman said.

“It is a very good move and one that should be welcomed,” he said.

UAE resident Sultan Abdul Rehman welcomed the ban on Twitter, saying: “This should be done on a national scale. Other emirates should learn from Sharjah.”

The move is part of a series of anti-tobacco measures aimed at tackling smoking in the UAE.

The federal law on tobacco control was introduced in early 2009 and partly phased in during 2011.

It bans the sale of tobacco products to people under 18; smoking in cars in the presence of children under 12; smoking in houses of worship, educational institutes and health or sports facilities; and selling sweets resembling tobacco products.

Other regulations covered smoking in shopping centres and shisha cafes near residential areas.

Last August, the GCC Standards Organisation ruled all cigarette packets imported into the region had to come with one of three graphic health warnings.

jbell@thenational.ae