Dokha sales to be tightly regulated in UAE

Dokha sales to be tightly regulated in UAE
KT file photo

Dubai - After the sale of cigarettes and shisha were tightened in 2012, many youngsters turned to smoking dokha.


Asma Ali Zain

Published: Thu 31 May 2018, 10:41 PM

dubai - People in the UAE will now only be able to buy limited amounts of dokha, while all products will also carry pictorial warnings, according to new standards approved by the National Tobacco Control Programme under the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP).
The new standards have been developed by the Emirates Metrology and Standardisation Authority (ESMA) and approved by the ministry. Pictorial warnings on all other tobacco products have been in place since 2012.
"These regulations for dokha should be in place by the end of the year," Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, director of Primary Healthcare Centre & National Programme of Tobacco Control, told Khaleej Times ahead of World No Tobacco Day that is marked each year on May 31.
A draft of standards and specifications for e-cigarettes is also ready with ESMA but is still pending approval.
Dr Wedad said that under the new regulations, dokha now cannot be bottled and refilled or manufactured at home or shops. "These new standards are being put in place to control the unlimited use of dokha which is a growing in popularity among the youth," she said.
Results from a health screenings study done in Abu Dhabi in 2016 showed that almost 30 per cent of Emiratis in their thirties smoked medwakh.
Dokha is a traditional form of Arabic tobacco. After laws governing the sale of cigarettes and shisha were tightened in 2012, with shops facing hefty fines if they sold to those under 18, many youngsters turned to smoking dokha. Selling medwakh and dokha to minors is also illegal. However, dokha is cheaper compared to cigarettes and can be bought for anywhere between Dh25-Dh40, and pipes for Dh50.
Every year, on May 31, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and partners mark World No Tobacco Day, highlighting health and other risks associated with tobacco use, and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption. This year, World No Tobacco Day focuses on tobacco and heart disease. The campaign's slogan is "Tobacco breaks hearts. Choose health, not tobacco".

On World No Tobacco Day 2018, WHO encourages:
. Cardiovascular communities and specialists to take charge, educate and lead, to limit tobacco use and so contain this cardiovascular disease epidemic at national and regional levels.
. The public at large to make every effort to reduce the risks to their heart health by quitting tobacco, avoiding its use and exposure to secondhand smoke.
. Governments to take all possible action to control tobacco use and raise public awareness of the link between tobacco use and heart disease.
. Countries and civil society to scale up prevention and control of cardiovascular disease by intensifying action on the six MPOWER measures in line with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and so reduce demand for tobacco.
The 6 MPOWER measures are: monitor tobacco use and prevention policies; protect people from tobacco smoke; offer help to quit; warn about the dangers; enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and raise taxes on tobacco.
Smoking cessation clinics in hospitals
"This year's theme is heart disease and smoking which are closely linked so we decided to set up smoking cessation clinics within hospitals where patients of heart and other chronic diseases can have easy access," said Dr Wedad.
The first such clinic has already been set up in Al Qasimi Hospital in Sharjah.
She also said that to mark the day, the ministry will hold awareness campaigns especially on social media by putting out warning messages for the community.
Talking about use of shisha in Ramadan tents, Dr Wedad said that each emirate should implement the law strictly. "This year, Ajman has stopped shisha smoking in Ramadan tents," she added.
Dr Wedad also said that the ministry's idea to ask the community members to report people violating the No Tobacco Law was still being implemented.
"We do not have the capacity yet to put up a system to take all calls from the public, however, people can call up municipalities in their emirates and report any violations," she added.
Meanwhile, the ministry has also conducted a National Health Survey on smoking among adults in the country and is awaiting the results.

Tobacco's lethal effects on health

Tobacco use is one of the leading causes of premature deaths and disability worldwide. It is also a key risk factor in coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.
"In most countries in WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Region, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disease", said Dr Jaouad Mahjour, acting WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean.
"In 2015, nearly 1.4 million deaths in the region were caused by cardiovascular disease. It has been estimated that in the next decade, deaths from cardiovascular disease - which in the region is mostly attributable to ischaemic heart disease - will increase more significantly than in any other region of the world except Africa," he said.
Large sections of the public do not realise that tobacco is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease. Thus, on World No Tobacco Day this year, WHO aims to increase public awareness on the link between tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke and cardiovascular disease.
"Tobacco use in the region has risen among men, women, boys and girls", notes Dr Mahjour. "In some countries, 52 per cent of men and 22 per cent of women use tobacco. The rates among youth are particularly worrying; they can reach 42 per cent among boys and 31 per cent among girls. This includes shisha which is more popular among youth than cigarettes."
"Tobacco in all its forms contains dangerous chemicals," said Dr Mahjour. "The only proven strategy to keep the heart and blood vessels safe is to quit, avoid initiation and exposure to secondhand smoke".
Shisha, smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes cause acute adverse health effects, such as heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure, arrhythmia and other cardiovascular events.
Secondhand smoke causes serious acute or chronic cardiovascular disease. In infants, secondhand smoke causes sudden death and in pregnant women, it leads to low birth weight and congenital heart defects in foetuses.

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