In the Pipeline: Ban on Sale of Single Cigarettes Filed on February 15, 2010

DUBAI With the region tightening the noose on the nicotine habit in the region, ban on the sale of single cigarettes will be implemented strictly in the country as part of new GCC-wide guidelines formulated last week on advertising and promotional restrictions of tobacco products.

The move is part of a wide range of anti-smoking measures being taken by the government to put an end to the menace and discourage the youth from taking up the habit. Experts say the move will discourage youngsters from seeking a quick drag which is now readily available in retail sales.

The guidelines on controlling tobacco advertisements and promotions that are based on the Singapore model were drafted in Kuwait last week — over a year after they were proposed. The UAE officials say they are just a small part of a whole range of rules under the newly passed National Anti-Tobacco Law.

According to the guidelines, vendors will require a special permit to sell tobacco while the outlets selling tobacco products will be spaced at least 200-500 metres away from residential areas, mosques, schools, hospitals and clinics.

Though the law prohibits advertisement, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products, details on how it will be implemented are being worked out on a GCC level, said Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, Head of the National Tobacco Control Committee at the Ministry of Health.

According to the World Health Organisation, the UAE is among the eight countries in the region that has implemented a comprehensive ban on advertisement, and is now working towards tightening loopholes.

“Most of these points were decided in a meeting held in Oman last year, we just put them in a legal document last week,” she said. Though a basic agreement binds them, each country is free to implement the rules as suited.

In the UAE, promotion of tobacco products will also face censorship on national TV and the Internet. “TV plays or dramas that show actors smoking will also be censored since they can become role models,” explained Dr Wedad.

As per the guidelines, sale of cigarettes over the Internet is also prohibited. Also banned is the open sale of cigarettes through mechanical machines or selling of the product through direct or indirect means using words such as light or mild and low tar. Any violations are subject to fines according to the law, addedDr Wedad.


Asma Ali Zain

Associated with KT for 15 years. Covers health issues, Pakistan community, human interest stories as well as general topics for daily news or features.

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