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UAE 'spies' to report smoking in non-designated areas

Asma Ali Zain/Dubai
Filed on February 16, 2016 | Last updated on February 16, 2016 at 05.00 am
UAE spies to report smoking in non-designated areas
KT illustration by Santosh Kumar

Secret agents could catch and fine you Dh500.


Besides the obvious risks to their health, UAE smokers will now have something else to fear: teams of undercover 'secret agents' on the prowl for people smoking in non-designated areas.

As approved under the law, those found flouting the rules will be fined Dh500.

A senior health official said on Monday that the step was part of the implementation of the federal anti-tobacco law and its by-laws. Since the law came into effect in 2014, implementation by government bodies concerned has been lax.

He, however, did not give a time frame as to when this initiative would start.

"We want people to volunteer and report to us when they see someone smoking," said Dr Hussain Al Rand, Assistant Under-Secretary for Health Centres and Clinics at the ministry.

He said the ministry had formed a committee to draft regulations on how to curb smoking. "The committee is currently working on these regulations and how to implement," he said.

As approved under the law, violators will be fined between Dh500 to Dh1 million depending on the violation. Dr Rand was speaking to Khaleej Times during the announcement of a six-phase health initiative called 'Your Health comes First' which is the result of a government retreat held in 2013 that approved measures to promote healthy lifestyles and eating and encourage physical activity among the residents.

"The first phase of the three-year long campaign was launched on January 25 and will end on March 7. "We are trying to raise community awareness about the benefit of sports, harmful effects of smoking and benefits of eating healthy food among others," said Nouf Khamis Al Ali, Head of Section for Health Promotion Programmes and Tobacco Control. The second phase will take place from October to November and will focus on physical activity while the third will be held from February to March 2017.

"We are empowering people through knowledge on the right steps to take to improve their health through education, media campaigns and also through social media," said Nouf.

School children will also be under the scanner in this initiative. "We want schools to help end childhood obesity by identifying and taking corrective measures."

The ministry has also recently asked restaurants and food outlets to volunteer to provide healthy options to support health-conscious customers hoping to cut down on junk food, and has offered to provide dieticians to help plan options.

Anti smoking actions:

> Dh500 fine for smoking in cars in the presence of children under 12

> Dh500 for smoking shisha in public places, parks or beaches

> Fines between Dh100,000 to Dh1 million on those who violate the ban on tobacco advertising

> Dh500 fine and four black points for drivers throwing cigarette butts out of car windows.

> Dh500 to Dh10,000 for selling tobacco products to those below 18.

> Dh500 fine for dumping cigarette butts on the road or in public areas

>Dh100,000 to Dh1 million fine for importing tobacco products not in line with UAE standards

Apart from the fines, here are some other rules:

> Blanket ban on smoking in public places and public transport

> Stricter restrictions on smoking in enclosed places

> Special permit needed for groceries and shisha cafes to sell tobacco products

> Ban on sale of tobacco products to those under 18 years (In Dubai it's 20 years)

> Ban on shisha cafes in residential areas

> Shisha cafes should be at least 150 metres away from places of worship, educational institutions

> Ban on direct and indirect pro-motion and advertising of tobacco products

> Up to two years jail term for importing tobacco without proper warnings

> No display of tobacco products near the cashier, and items marketed for children

> Smoking will not be allowed in any restaurant built in less than 1,000 square feet

> Pictorial and written warnings mandatory on cigarette packaging.

asmaalizain@khaleejtimes.com





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