Smoking law strikes a fine balance

A tough new anti-smoking law was unveiled on Thursday, imposing heavy fines and imprisonment for those who flout its provisions. Under the law, smoking is banned in public places and on public transport, in vehicles where children under 12 are present, and in educational and health facilities and places of worship.

The introduction of the new law meets the UAE’s requirements as a member of the World Health Organisation and signals the nation’s commitment to battling this anti-social habit.

Second-hand smoke should become less of a problem in public places around the UAE

Second-hand smoke should become less of a problem in public places around the UAE

The effects of nicotine, whether delivered through cigarettes, shisha or cigars, are well documented. Heart and lung diseases, cancers and infections are inevitable — and that’s not just for the smokers themselves, as their noxious smoke also inflicts illness upon the innocent.

The law also allows for the introduction of health warnings on tobacco products, a constant reminder to smokers that every time they reach for a cigarette to satisfy their craving, they are inflicting physical damage upon themselves and shortening their lifespan.

What is also welcome is that this law also allows competent authorities to issue licences to allow smoking in designated areas in closed public places under certain conditions.

In effect, it strikes a fine balance between the regrettable cultural aspects of smoking long held as a tradition, and the interests of public health. With proper regulation and enforcement, those who wish to continue to damage their health can do so under circumstances that also protect those who simply don’t wish to be near smokers.

Significantly, the law is far-sighted in its provision of banning smoking in vehicles where children under 12 are present. International studies have shown that smoking in cars is up to five times more noxious than smoking in open environments.

While the law is welcome, public education will further deter smokers. And a hefty price hike is always a strong deterrent.


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