Dubai: It was a day without smoke in Dubai as the civic authority banned the sale of cigarettes in the emirates for 24 hours Tuesday morning.
Petrol stations and leading retail outlets put up signs saying that cigarettes would not be sold.
Emarat and Enoc petrol stations turned away customers who wanted to buy a pack of cigarettes Tuesay.
Dubai Municipality said that in support of the no smoking initiative, 63 shops, hypermarkets and supermarkets stopped selling tobacco products for a day. It said that almost all restaurants and cafes cooperated with the civic body and participated in the campaign by stopping the sale of shisha for 12 hours.
Meanwhile, Dr Hanif Hassan, Minister of Health, said yesterday that the UAE planned to build more smoking cessation clinics across the country to help people quit smoking.
He said the clinics had helped 400 smokers quit the habit in 2009 and another 400 stopped smoking last year. There are seven smoking cessation clinics across the emirates.
The minister said the UAE was the first in the region to provide such free services including in schools and universities. He was speaking at a meeting to commemorate World No Tobacco Day yesterday.
Dr Hassan said the UAE was committed to the international Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). "As one of the member states that have ratified this agreement, we reassure this commitment of the GCC council in fighting tobacco," he said.
The minister earlier gave tokens of appreciation to seven people who quit smoking with the smoking cessation clinics.
He said part of the government strategy to control smoking was to raise the price of cigarettes and tobacco products, but that this was being worked out with other government departments.
A senior executive in the tobacco control committee earlier said there was a move to increase the price of tobacco by 100 per cent.
The minister appealed to the public and the private sector to help in the government's efforts on tobacco control.
Dr Wedad Al Maidour, head of the tobacco control committee, said the bylaws of the Federal Anti-Tobacco Law were passed by the Health Council Tuesday.
"That is good news, we were struggling to finalise it," she said. The Health Council is made up of heads of all the health authorities. The bylaws will now be presented to His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for approval, she said.
The bylaws have been in the making for over a year now and the sticking point has been the need to increase the price of cigarettes and tobacco products as various ministries and departments were involved.
The doctor said more efforts would be made to reach children and the youth in universities and schools to educate them on the harmful effects of smoking.
Dr Wedad said there was also a need to educate the various departments about the Federal Anti-Smoking law which was passed in 2009. "Many departments are unaware of the law and are not enforcing it," she said, giving an example of not fining motorists who smoke with a child inside the car.
The municipality also organised an exhibition in partnership with Dubai Medical Collage and Johnson and Johnson explaining how smoking affects different organs of the body.