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Stricter smoking ban in Dubai

Asma Ali Zain And Joy Sengupta
Filed on May 9, 2007

DUBAI Dubai Municipality (DM) has said that it will start implementing the ban on smoking in public places more strictly from May 31 this year. The civic body has also outlined the regulations on smoking and also drawn up a time-table for the phase-wise implementation of the ban.

Hussain Nasser Lootah, acting Director General of the Municipality, said the move was in line with the instructions given by the Executive Council on the proposal submitted by the municipality in this regard.

"On May 31, the programme will be formally announced. This will include a ban on smoking in government departments and other public establishments, following which a media campaign will be launched to educate the public on the decision," he said.

The regulations on smoking in shopping malls and amusement centres will be in place by September 15, Lootah said. "From November 15 onwards, all food establishments and other places related to public health, including beauty salons, hotels and cinemas will have to regulate smoking inside their premises. From 2008, fines will be imposed on violators as per the Local Order No.11 of 2003 pertaining to public health and environment," he added.

Senior municipality officials said the regulations would include a blanket ban on smoking in places like schools, educational establishments, salons, health clubs, internet cafes, food courts and offices.

"The shopping malls, cafes and restaurants must designate smoking lounges or corners that should meet all the prerequisites such as proper ventilation and smoke absorbers. In addition, people below the age of 21 will not be allowed to enter these smoking zones," they noted.

Dr Mariam Mattar, Assistant Under Secretary for Public Health and Primary Health Care at the Ministry of Health (MoH) said the law had to be in place before the MoH submits a report on fulfilling the criteria on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to the World Health Organisation (WHO) by 2008.

"Strict implementation of the ban will save the MoH billions of dollars which it is spending on diseases caused as a result of smoking," she explained. "Once in place, strict enforcement of the ban will be required. This will require more human resources," she added. However, Dr Jassim Klaib, National Coordinator on Tobacco Control with the WHO and GCC region and head of the National Committee on Tobacco Control admitted that the MoH was trying to overcome the strong tobacco lobby in the country.

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