Dubai Tobacco companies have been given an ultimatum of three months to put graphic warnings on cigarette packs being sold in the UAE even as a stringent by-law of the Federal Tobacco Law is set to come into effect by year-end, a top official of the Ministry of Health told XPRESS.
Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, Head of the National Tobacco Control Committee under the Ministry of Health, said the companies had been ordered to implement a new ruling on pictorial and textual warnings by August 9, but they had sought more time to clear out huge stocks of old packs still held.
She said: “Tobacco companies are backed by a big lobby that resists any new measures or laws that clamp down on smoking and protect people’s health.
“We have extended the deadline for them to comply with the new rule till the end of the year, but after that no cigarette pack will be allowed into the country without the warnings.”
Dr Wedad said a by-law of the Federal Tobacco Law will be passed by year-end, ensuring that tobacco products contain one of the pictorial warnings (see pictures) approved by the Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority (Esma).
She said current regulations only allow for the control of tobacco use as against an effective ban. But once the by-law comes into effect, it will also permit strict enforcement of regulations concerning the maintenance of smoke-free areas, sale of tobacco products and media advertising.
“Groceries and supermarkets will no longer be allowed to sell and display these products at the cashier.
“No promotions will be allowed and there will be a complete ban against advertising of tobacco products in any form,” she said.