UAE | Health

E-cigarettes ban in UAE goes up in smoke

E-cigarette ban in the emirates needs enforcement, health experts say

  • By Carolina D’Souza, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 20:49 May 5, 2013
  • Gulf News

Dubai: Despite the UAE-wide e-cigarette ban in the UAE, there is evidence of growing use of the electronic alternative to tobacco, Gulf News has learnt. Health experts urged civic authorities to take swift action to stop the illegal trade.

Investigation revealed that unlicensed traders sell e-cigarettes for Dh50 a piece, and claim they can arrange for small quantities at a time. The illegal import is being done through word of mouth and, according to Gulf News sources, even through licensed traders of Chinese products in free zone areas, albeit in small quantities.

Public health experts have said that e-cigarettes — a battery-operated device that delivers nicotine without tobacco and emulates smoking — undermines the country’s anti-smoking efforts. Furthermore, they are concerned that e-cigarettes could increase nicotine addiction and encourage tobacco use in the younger population.

The smokeless ‘cigarette’ that delivers doses of nicotine and/or tobacco extracts with or without flavouring, is erroneously seen as a healthy alternative to tobacco smoking.

A senior official from the UAE Ministry of Health has said the illegal availability of e-cigarettes thwarts the country’s anti-tobacco efforts. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged countries to ban electronic cigarettes. The body states that it does not consider e-cigarettes to be a legitimate therapy for smokers trying to quit.

It also states that e-cigarettes pose significant public health issues and raise questions about tobacco control policy and regulation.

The ministry considers the e-cigarette a tobacco product or a way of promoting smoking but not a solution to control smoking.

“Despite the GCC-wide ban, we hear reports of some people who have imported it illegally, using it in the UAE,” said Dr Wedad Al Maidour, head of the National Tobacco Control Programme and director of Primary Healthcare Centres at the ministry, speaking to Gulf News.

She said e-cigarettes pose a health hazard. Referring to various studies, notably that of the 2009 US Food and Drug Administration, she said e-cigarettes have carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) and toxic chemicals such as components of antifreeze and brake fluids.

Expounding on the appeal of e-cigarettes, she said that smokers, especially teenagers, may wrongly think that it is a safer and undetectable alternative. “Due to it being odourless, teens may smoke in their homes or at school without anyone finding out,” said Dr Wedad.

She also said e-cigarettes challenge the country’s anti-tobacco laws, and that the dangers of e-cigarettes should be reiterated and implementation of the ban should be stricter.

“We need a cabinet-level ban on these devices across the GCC,” she said.

Gulf News spoke to Dr Hanan Obaid, Tobacco-Free Dubai Project Leader and Acting Director of the Health Affairs Department, Primary Healthcare Services Sector, Dubai Health Authority (DHA), on e-cigarettes being perceived as a kind of smoking cessation therapy.

“These devices do not have health warnings unlike other nicotine replacement products. In fact, electronic cigarettes could increase nicotine addiction and encourage tobacco use as these simulate the act of smoking,” she said.

Dr Salwa Zaky Hanna, Senior Health Education Officer and Psychological Counsellor who overlooks the Smoking Cessation programme at the Abu Dhabi-based American Centre for Psychiatry and Neurology, warned about the harmful effects of nicotine in e-cigarettes.

She said: “Long-term smoking affects health adversely, and it is known to kill half of its users. Stroke, cataract and cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus and lungs are linked to nicotine.”

Comments (12)

  1. Added 15:35 May 6, 2013

    Cigarette smoking should be banned in all public areas - including bars and restaurants.

    Bob, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 15:00 May 6, 2013

    Harm reduction should be the policy. E-cigarettes help smokers stop smoking and should be legal here as they are in other countries. Better to have people stop inhaling tobacco smoke first - anything is better than that.

    Jeff Bustlethwaite, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 13:53 May 6, 2013

    It is a matter of choice. Not all eliquids are with nicotine, zero nics are much preferred for the cessation of smoking habits. The only problem here is that it should be regulated/controlled, not banned. Tobacco giants are just shaking in their boots as to why their sales have dropped significantly after the boom of the e-cig industry. People would rather pay good money for something that doesn't harm them and others. Why is it the midwakh and Shisha still available too? Because it is regulated. Educate people about its effects and do not sell to minors. This is what's to be done instead of an outright banning.

    Abu Eisa Taicho, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 12:47 May 6, 2013

    There should be effective ban of cigarette use in public. I have witnessed many driving and smoking. Rules should be rules,

    Anonymous, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 12:20 May 6, 2013

    Why can't the authorities also think of banning public smoking? All major countries have taken this initiative. E-Cigarettes atleast do not lead to passive smoking - something that is even more dangerous and affecting all the non smoking / smoking public, young children in UAE. E-Cigarettes seem a better option than regular ones in this light. Both are known to be carcinogenic. Neither one can be better than the other. But for the general public the latter is worse. I being a non smoker, would like all kinds of tobacco products banned from public use as a bare minimum.

    Nandith, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 11:49 May 6, 2013

    The WHO is not looking to ban e-cigarettes but does not discount the possibility that the electronic cigarette could be useful as a smoking cessation aid, but insisted that claims that electronic cigarettes can help smokers quit need to be backed up by clinical studies and toxicity analyses and operate within the proper regulatory framework. Anything related to nicotine is not healthy. Nicotine is addictive but the e-cigarette removed the 400+ other chemicals you take in when you some a normal cigarette.

    Joe, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 11:38 May 6, 2013

    It sounds absurd. Why can't people get rid of their nicotine dependency? UAE has enormous opportunities for every one to lead a healthy life.

    Khurshid Qazi, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 11:25 May 6, 2013

    I think UAE should bann all kinds of items whic are bad for health such as Cigrattes, Liquor etc etc and set an example

    Nasheed, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 11:15 May 6, 2013

    if real cigarettes are more harmful why not ban them, instead of e-cigarettes?

    BM, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 11:06 May 6, 2013

    I truly do not believe those studies, if they want to fight smoking then increase the cost like Europe has done….many people will quit if the pack’s price became 30 AED…including me !!

    Mohammad, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  11. View more comments

Gulf News
Latest news
Community Reports

More from Community Reports

Quick Links

  1. Business

  2. Sport

  3. The latest Entertainment news

  4. The latest Lifestyle stories

  5. Opinion

Gulf Country Finder

  1. The latest news from the UAE

  2. Saudi Arabia

  3. Qatar

  4. Bahrain

  5. Oman

  6. Kuwait

  7. Yemen

Region Country Finder

  1. Syria

  2. Palestinian territories

  3. Jordan

  4. Lebanon

  5. Iran

  6. Iraq

  7. Egypt

Influencers

  1. United States of America

  2. India

  3. Pakistan

  4. United Kingdom

Regions

  1. Gulf

  2. Region

  3. The latest news from around the world