Abu Dhabi: Cigarette packages that do not contain graphic health warnings will be banned from public sale in the United Arab Emirates after January 1 under new laws announced yesterday in Abu Dhabi.
In an announcement on Wednesday by the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA), only cigarette packages emblazoned with mandatory graphic imagery of the hazards of smoking introduced earlier this year will be legally offered for sale in 2013.
Mohammad Saleh Badri, acting director general of the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA), said no company is exempt from the rules.
“Esma has met with representatives of tobacco producers and emphasised to them the new standards and the government’s keenness to enforce it on time,” said a statement from Esma.
The body said that it is working with economic ministry officials in several emirates, the Abu Dhabi Council for Standardisation and Quality as well as Dubai Municipality to ensure the sweeping new rule is enforced across the country.
In an interview last night with Gulf News, Badri said “there won’t be any further extension at all” in reference to a six-month extension in June this year of the rules to allow cigarette companies to sell older existing stocks of tobacco products that did not contain the graphic imagery.
The last day of that extension ends on December 31.
Badri said the extension was awarded by authorities this year because “it was impractical to withdraw stock at the time” and he pointed out that some cigarette companies have already withdrawn older products from circulation to fully comply with the law ahead of time.
“We will strictly implement this from January 1. Those who do not comply with this particular rule will face strict penalties,” Badri said, adding that penalties could range in severity from fines starting from Dh15,000 all the way up to a “product being withdrawn from the market.”