10 shops, cafes shut in sting operation

ABU DHABI - The Abu Dhabi Municipality has closed down 10 groceries, cafeterias and restaurants in the suburbs of the capital city for violating its recent civic order banning the sale of tobacco products to children under 18, an official of the municipality said on Monday.

By Muawia E. Ibrahim

Published: Tue 20 Jan 2004, 12:16 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:27 AM

Municipality inspectors used two schoolchildren aged under 15 to pose as serious buyers at the shops that were illegally selling cigarettes to youngsters in Abu Dhabi's suburbs of Samha, Rahba, Shahama and Bahya.

The shops have been shut down as the boys successfully bought tobacco from them, though the municipality's posters carrying the warning message: 'No tobacco for children under 18' were found visibly affixed on the doors of these shops. Legal action will be taken against the salesmen involved, the official said.

The move followed round-the-clock and close monitoring of shops in the capital and its suburbs to ensure all outlets complied with the new rule.

According to the decision issued on August 17, any shop, supermarket, grocery or commercial outlet caught selling any form of tobacco to anyone under the age of 18 will be permanently shut down and fined by the government with no prior warning.

The source said the municipality had stepped up an awareness campaign as a preliminary step to enforce the rule. The campaign targeted shop salesmen and various segments of society to educate them on the health hazards of smoking, as well as the penalties for offending the rule, which include immediate closure and fines.

The inspectors informed the offending groceries about the closure decision a day before action was taken so as to give the groceries enough time to prepare themselves to avoid any damages or financial losses.

As per the procedure, the municipality sends a notification to the offending outlet to appear before court to decide the duration of closure or any other procedures deemed appropriate by the judge, taking into consideration the circumstances that led to the violation.

The decision to ban the sale of tobacco to minors was aimed at protecting public health and reducing the hazards posed by smoking to the younger generation as well as to the surrounding environment, the official said, adding that the purpose was not to merely punish violators, but to keep the younger generation away from tobacco.

Before implementing the rule, the official said the municipality stepped up an awareness campaign to give enough time to all outlets concerned, so that there would be no excuse for failing to comply with the new rule.

The campaign included the distribution of pamphlets and posters to all outlets selling tobacco. It also included TV and radio programmes which hosted senior health officials who explained smoking health hazards and the objectives of the drive.

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