UAE: Hefty fines will be handed down to those who smoke in cars with children as young as 12 as authorities ban the practice and start enforcing strict punishments stated in the federal Anti-Tobacco Law.
Three years after the historic federal law was passed in 2010, the UAE Cabinet approved its bylaws on Monday paving the way for strict enforcement and tough penalties for violators.
Health officials welcomed the bylaws and said time for action against violators had come. “I am very glad that the bylaws have been passed,” said Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, head of the National Tobacco Control Committee at the health ministry. “Enforcement should start within a couple of months now … we will be ready to take action after the holy month of Ramadan,” she said, adding that training of stakeholders such as traffic police will begin soon.
“People thought they would continue violating the law without punishment,” said Dr Wedad who has been at the forefront in drafting the law and the detailed bylaws. “They will now think twice before lighting up.”
The ministry will soon organise a workshop to gather all the stakeholders and decide the next course of action. “The Ministry of Interior will have to put up a system of how the law will be enforced,” said Dr Wedad. Work on creating a summary and translation of the bylaws will also begin. Besides protecting public health by banning smoking in enclosed places, the bylaws allow authorities to fine for advertisement and promotion of tobacco as well as selling and smoking in banned public places, including public transport.
A fine of Dh500 will be handed down to those who smoke with children under 12 in the car with the amount being doubled in case of a repeat violation. Those who violate the ban on advertising will be fined between Dh100,000 to Dh1 million while jail terms of up to two years will be upheld for those who import tobacco without proper warnings. “Prominent display of cigarettes such as packets being placed near the cashier will not be allowed at all,” explained Dr Wedad.
The draft law was formulated in 2006 and approved by the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in 2010.
Bits and parts stated in the law have already been implemented over these three years.
© Khaleej TimesJun 2013