E-cigarettes ban in UAE goes up in smoke

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

12 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.”


E-CIGARETTE: What you need to know


  • Bob

    06-May-2013 15:35

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

  • Jeff Bustlethwaite

    06-May-2013 15:00

    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.

  • Abu Eisa Taicho

    06-May-2013 13:53

    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. Peoplewould 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 iswhat's to be done instead of an outright banning.

  • Anonymous

    06-May-2013 12:47

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

  • Nandith

    06-May-2013 12:20

    Why can't the authorities also think of banning public smoking? Allmajor countries have taken this initiative. E-Cigarettes atleast do notlead to passive smoking - something that is even more dangerous andaffecting all the non smoking / smoking public, young children in UAE.E-Cigarettes seem a better option than regular ones in this light. Bothare 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 abare minimum.

  • Joe

    06-May-2013 11:49

    The WHO is not looking to ban e-cigarettes but does not discount thepossibility that the electronic cigarette could be useful as a smokingcessation aid, but insisted that claims that electronic cigarettes canhelp smokers quit need to be backed up by clinical studies and toxicityanalyses and operate within the proper regulatory framework. Anythingrelated to nicotine is not healthy. Nicotine is addictive but thee-cigarette removed the 400+ other chemicals you take in when you some anormal cigarette.

  • Khurshid Qazi

    06-May-2013 11:38

    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.

  • Nasheed

    06-May-2013 11:25

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

  • BM

    06-May-2013 11:15

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

  • Mohammad

    06-May-2013 11:06

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

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