UAE - Khalifa issues federal anti-tobacco law..

President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan..

January 7, 2009 - Back in December 2009, Dr Wael al Mahmeed, head of the Emirates Cardiac Society said United Arab Emirates (UAE - UAE is a federation of seven emirates) needs a national smoking ban, for the sake of young people’s health – and soon, several leading doctors have said. “We need legislation, education and taxation” on tobacco products." (UAE - doctors say national smoking ban needed for the sake of young people..)

On January 6, 2010 President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has issued federal law no 15 of 2009 banning import of tobacco and its by-products into the country unless specific standard requirements accredited in the UAE are met. Those conditions include posting of clear word and image warnings on the box and a ban on all kinds of advertisements, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products.

The law also prohibits smoking on public transport and public closed places. Under the provisions of the law, no licence [license] will be issued to cafes or similar outlets serving any types of tobacco or its products inside residential buildings or quarters or near them.Smoking will also be banned during vehicle driving in the company of a child under 12 years.

The law sets a series of penalties against offenders reaching in some cases up to Dh1 million (1 USD = 3.67350 AED (Dirhams)) in addition to a jail term of not less than two years.

The law calls for setting up a national anti-tobacco committee as per a cabinet resolution to ensure enforcement of the law and advance national efforts to fight the phenomenon and create a health environment for both UAE nationals and expatriate residents.

Commenting on the law, Health Minister Dr. Hanif Hassan said : “The legislation was issued within the context of measures taken by the wise leadership of President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed

Al Nahyan and the federal government under the stewardship of Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai H. H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to protect UAE citizens and residents, enhance public health, and combat diseases and harmful habits in the society including the lethal smoking menace which leads according to the latest World Health Organisation report to the death of more than 5 million persons every year.

The minister said the law aims to block the way before companies or individuals who are trying to seduce the population, notably the young generation, into the circle of smoking.

He added that the ministry of health would conduct a massive nationwide campaign to educate members of the public about the health hazards of smoking. The ministry will join forces with other federal and local concerned authorities to enforce the law in the best way.

The law prohibits selling of tobacco products to those less than 18 years old, bans cultivation of tobacco and import of tobacco-look-like sweet and toys and other similar products.

The law will spare the non-smokers the effects of passive smoking and the ensuing disturbance. The law empowers the court to confiscate seized and advertising materials and even close down the firm if found breaching the law. “The law demonstrates the UAE commitment to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) which the UAE acceded to in 2005,”the health minister indicated.

“The law protects the present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences generated from smoking tobacco and inhaling its smoke,”he added.

Highlighting some articles of the law, the minister the law bans smoking in places and houses of worship, educational, health and sports facilities. However, he indicated that a permit may be obtained from the competent authority to designate smoking areas at indoor places under specific rules.

The minister stressed the vital need of cooperation from all community forces to eradicate the smoking menace which causes many chronic ills that negatively effect economic growth and depress the development process.

Reference: Khalifa issues federal anti-tobacco law, Khaleej Times online, 1/6/2010.

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