Wednesday, January 22, 2014

UAE Anti-tobacco Law in effect from January 21

The much anticipated Anti-tobacco Federal Law has come into place on January 21. A number of rules must be taken into consideration, as violators may be met with hefty fines.

On July 21, 2013 the Ministry of Health announced the executive regulations of the Anti-tobacco Federal Law, which was approved by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in the Cabinet's Resolution No 24.

During the course of the next 6 months, the public was able to take the required measures to comply with the new law. As shopkeepers, distributers and the hospitality sector have geared up for the day of implementation, the individual smoker too should be well aware of the new rules from today onward in order to avoid being fined.A couple of rules have been implemented to protect the younger generation from the harm that can be caused through smoking and passive smoking. By far the most-talked about rule is the restriction of smoking in the car in the presence of a child below 12 years.

The violator will be fined with a Dh500 penalty, and Dubai Police is tasked with the enforcement of this rule. So, from today, good behaviour on the road goes beyond being a good driver.

Further, the young generation will not be able to purchase any tobacco products, as the sale of these products to any person under the age of 18 is a violation. Similarly, shisha products may not be provided to persons under the age of 18. Those flouting these rules may be fined with penalties between Dh500-10,000.

Shopkeepers and café owners will have to abide by an additional set of rules. Shisha shops and shops selling tobacco products may no longer be available near schools and mosques. A minimum distance of 15 metres should be maintained from kindergartens, schools, universities and colleges, a minimum of 100 metres from places of worship. A minimum of 150 metres from residential areas is the rule for shisha cafes.

Further, tobacco products cannot be displayed near items marketed for children, or sportswear, health, food and electronic products.

Advertising of tobacco products is no longer permitted.  The law bans any content that advertises tobacco products, such as newspaper advertisements, TV commercials and animations.

It also bans importing tobacco products that are not line with technical standards set by the UAE, and any violations regarding such imports can lead to a one year prison sentence and a fine ranging from Dh100,000 to Dh1 million, in addition to the confiscation of products.

The law also provides specifications on the packaging of tobacco products. All products must now display a large warning label on the front to raise awareness on the dangers of tobacco, and not to mislead them. Violators will be fined Dh100,000 to Dh1 million, and the fines can be doubled if the offence is repeated.

Shisha cafes are subjected to specific rules when it comes to their opening hours. The regulations specify that these cafes must comply to working hours from 10am to midnight. Shishas may not be served to customers younger than 18 years, and the cafes will be forbidden from delivering shishas to apartments.

Finally, growing or producing tobacco for commercial purposes will also be forbidden, and current manufacturing plants have been given a grace period of 10 years to sort out their situation, while tobacco farms have been given a two-year grace period.