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UAE Has Tough Measures to Stub Out Smoking, With Special Focus on Protecting Minors

Understanding UAE's Smoking and Tobacco Laws - Regulations and Penalties

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Pavitra Shetty

Published on April 5, 2024, 08:35:19

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smoking, uae, who, tobacco, smoking laws

 

According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco claims the lives of over eight million individuals annually, with approximately 1.3 million non-smokers succumbing to the effects of second-hand smoke.

Health experts in the UAE emphasise that exposure to second-hand smoke poses significant health risks to non-smokers, including children, particularly in confined spaces.

Despite smoking being prevalent among residents in the UAE, the emergence of e-cigarettes and vapes has made it easier to access alternative smoking methods and tobacco-related products.

UAE legislation has instituted stringent measures to combat smoking, particularly around minors, and regulate the sale of tobacco-related products.
Smoking is strictly prohibited in enclosed public areas, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, places of worship, and certain outdoor areas.

It is also illegal to sell tobacco and vape products to individuals under the age of 18. Violating these laws may lead to fines, penalties, or other legal consequences.

Here is an overview of the laws related to smoking and tobacco products.

Federal Law No. 3 of 2016

Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 concerning child rights, also known as Wadeema's Law, forbids the sale or attempt to sell tobacco or tobacco products to children. Sellers are obligated to verify the purchaser's age, ensuring they are at least 18 years old.

Additionally, smoking in public or private transportation means and indoor places in the presence of a child is strictly prohibited. Violators face fines starting at Dh5,000.

Additional Prohibitions under Federal Law No. 15 of 2009

This law prohibits and penalises various smoking-related activities, including:

  • Selling tobacco products to individuals under 18.
  • Smoking in private cars when a child under 12 is present.
  • Smoking in houses of worship, educational institutions, health and sports facilities.
  • Selling sweets resembling tobacco products.
  • Operating automatic vending equipment and devices for tobacco distribution.
  • Tobacco advertisement.

Penalties for Tobacco Sales to Minors

Those found selling or attempting to sell tobacco products to minors confront severe penalties, including a minimum prison sentence of three months and/or fines not less than Dh15,000. Sellers are mandated to verify the purchaser's age, ensuring they are at least 18 years old.

This penalty also applies to individuals selling or attempting to sell alcoholic beverages or any other hazardous materials to minors, prioritizing the protection of children's health and well-being.

Here are some commonly asked questions related to smoking and tobacco products by people in the UAE:

Is smoking prohibited by law in the UAE?

Yes, smoking is prohibited by law in the UAE. Federal laws and regulations strictly govern smoking, including vaping, and aim to protect public health and well-being.

Smoking is banned in enclosed public spaces, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, places of worship, and specific outdoor areas. Additionally, selling tobacco and vape products to individuals under 18 is illegal.

What is UAE Federal Law No. 15 of 2009 Tobacco Control?

UAE Federal Law No. 15 of 2009, known as the Tobacco Control Law, outlines comprehensive regulations concerning tobacco usage. This law prohibits various smoking-related activities, including selling tobacco products to individuals under 18, smoking in private cars with children under 12 present, smoking in specific areas like houses of worship and educational institutions, selling tobacco-like sweets, operating tobacco vending machines, tobacco advertisements and smoking in enclosed public spaces. It aims to promote public health and reduce the prevalence of smoking-related illnesses.

Is chewing tobacco legal in the UAE?

Chewing tobacco, like other forms of tobacco, is regulated by UAE laws and regulations. While specific laws may vary, tobacco consumption in any form is generally subject to restrictions to protect public health. It is advisable to familiarise oneself with the relevant laws and regulations regarding tobacco usage in the UAE.

Is smoking while driving allowed in the UAE?

Smoking while driving is not explicitly prohibited by UAE law. However, smoking in private cars with children under 12 present is prohibited under Federal Law No. 15 of 2009 Tobacco Control.

Additionally, smoking in private vehicles may be restricted in certain circumstances or locations, such as enclosed parking lots or designated non-smoking areas.

It is essential to adhere to relevant laws and regulations to ensure compliance and promote road safety and public health. While smoking is a personal choice, it's crucial to recognise the importance of abiding by laws and respecting the cultural norms in the UAE.

Understanding UAE's smoking and tobacco laws is essential for both residents and businesses to ensure compliance and contribute to a healthier society. By adhering to these regulations, individuals not only fulfill their legal obligations but also play a vital role in promoting public health and well-being in the UAE.

(The writer is a legal assocuate at Dubai-based NYK Law Firm)

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