Where can you smoke in the UAE?
These are the regulations around smoking in the UAE. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: If you are planning to light up a cigarette or pull out a vape, look around. You may be in an area where smoking is prohibited. The UAE has strict guidelines on the sale and consumption of tobacco products, which includes cigarettes, e-cigarettes, shisha and other tobacco products like pipes.

The UAE became a Party to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on February 5, 2006. The country’s laws prohibit advertisements or promotion of tobacco products as well as sale of tobacco products to those under the age of 18. It also has strict guidelines to protect pregnant women and children from the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke.

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Reducing consumption of cigarettes and tobacco products is one of the key performance indicators in the UAE’s National Agenda, with the country aiming to reduce tobacco consumption from 21.6 per cent to 15.7 per cent among men and from 1.9 per cent to 1.66 per cent among women by the year 2021.

File photograph of anti-smoking awareness posters in the Qanat Al Qasba area in Sharjah.
File photograph of anti-smoking awareness posters in the Qanat Al Qasba area in Sharjah. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

What the law says

The Federal Law No.15 of 2009 regarding Tobacco Control forbids and penalises:

• The sale of tobacco products to those under 18

• Smoking in private cars when a child under the age of 12 is present

• Smoking in houses of worship, educational institutions (such as universities and schools), health and sports facilities

• The sale of sweets, which resemble tobacco products

• Automatic vending equipment and devices for tobacco distribution inside the country

• Tobacco advertisement

• Smoking in closed public spaces.

Shisha cafes, except those that have applied for a special licence, are banned from operating within 150 metres of residential areas, schools and mosques.

Smoking in public places

Smoking is permitted in designated areas, which are clearly marked, especially in public places.

Dubai Municipality banned smoking shisha in parks, beaches and all public recreational areas in Dubai. It also prohibited the entry of pregnant women into shisha cafes, regardless of their intention to smoke.

In 2008, the Sharjah government had banned all kinds of smoking in public areas including smoking of shisha.

Protecting children

The UAE legislature has guaranteed through Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 concerning child rights, also known as Wadeema's Law, children’s basic and comprehensive rights.

According to article the law, it is prohibited to sell or attempt to sell tobacco or tobacco products to children. The seller shall have the right to ask the purchaser to provide evidence of reaching the age of eighteen.

Smoking in public and private transportation means and indoor places in the presence of a child is also prohibited, as per the law.