UAE - enforcement of the new tobacco control law not clear yet..

January 8, 2010 - On January 6, 2010 President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi), 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. (UAE - Khalifa issues federal anti-tobacco law..)

Yesterday, January 7th uncertainty was rampant among private businesses and government officials alike over when and where the legislation would come into force.
A number of tobacco shop owners said they were awaiting clarification as to how the law would effect them.

However, the new law appears to make little difference to the way most emirates already operate. Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah and Dubai have all implemented full or partial smoking bans since 2007 and the new law varies little from the existing legislation laid down by the respective municipalities. Emirates of the United Arab Emirates..

The Abu Dhabi Municipality, however, said it needed further instruction before publicising what role it would take in enforcing the law. The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority said it was “trying to clarify the situation with the federal authorities” before establishing whether hotels and restaurants in the city are affected.

Details on which premises are expected to comply are expected from the Ministry of Health in the coming week. An appendix to the law is expected within a month, providing confirmation of who will be affected.

Dubai, however, will begin to enforce the new law immediately, said Salem Mesmar, the municipality’s assistant director general for health, safety and environment control. Abu Dhabi and Umm al Qaiwain stand to see the most change from the law, because every other emirate already has some form of smoking ban.

What is clear is that everything will soon become clearer. The Ministry of Health has established a national committee to combat tobacco to implement the federal legislation, said Dr Mahmoud Fikri, the head of health legislation and policies at the ministry. “By next week we will share our plans on how we will enforce the law and when, and answer all questions pertaining to the tobacco ban,” he said.

While much remains to be clarified, not least of all how the law will be enforced and by whom, the law nevertheless makes a number of points clear - please see reference.

Reference: Smoking ban leaves capital in a haze over details of tobacco curbs, The National staff, 1/8.2010.

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