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E-cigarettes: the Digital Age embraces smokers

E-cigarettes: the Digital Age embraces smokers

Can e-cigarettes be the future of tobacco in the GCC? Kipp investigates...

January 30, 2012 5:35 by

Business interests blocking a tobacco ban—this was the theme behind the excellent Jason Reitman movie ‘Thank you for Smoking’ and also the recently held meeting of the GCC Tobacco Control Committee, apparently.

Most notably, Dr Mahmoud Fikri, the undersecretary for health policy at the Ministry of Health, said the law to enforce a ban has been stalled because: “It is hard for things to run smoothly in this. There are a lot of interests, and there are big companies today and a lot of other things that come into effect. When it came to implementation affected businesses did not all agree. Some said, ‘other countries don’t have this, so why do we have to?'”

Oh boo hoo! Will the GCC ever be tobacco free? Well there is a GCC-wide anti-smoking week, but as The National, very cheekily pointed out even those at the Tobacco Control Committee weren’t aware of it: “”When is this?” asked the Saudi official. “When it comes, I don’t even know.”

(Nope. This is just too easy the comedy practically writes itself with that quote. So we’re letting this one slide but feel free to give your own script.)

Interestingly, the meeting of the Tobacco Control Committee (don’t they sound like a fun lot?) has brought up the much debated conversation around introducing a tobacco tax into tax free UAE. Retailers say that even a 30 percent hike isn’t likely to deter avid smokers. After all, with tobacco prices at a global low (a branded pack of 20 cigarettes going for Dh6), a 30 percent increase would mean a packet would set back a smoker Dh8.

One of the top concerns is the issue of second hand smoke. In this regard, Dubai’s shopping malls, cinemas, offices and colleges have been rather successful in setting up smoking bans, forcing smokers to resort to smoking in tiny cancer-guaranteeing terminals—although, the ban is just catching up in other Emirates. Which is why, Kipp sees a fantastic business opportunity for anyone willing to bring the franchise to the region…the e-cigarette.

Once a bogus tacky invention, the e-cigarette is fast growing as a stylish alternative for those smokers tired of seeing the Blood Red No-Smoking Sign. So far, celebrities like Britney Spears, Jeremy Piven, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Moss, Paris Hilton, and Catherine Zeta-Jones have been spotted smoking one of these smoke-less red LED e-cigarettes. In fact, even Charlie Sheen is planning on starting his own line of e-cigs, called, wait for it, “NicoSheen”.

As Business Week says “According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of Americans who have smoked an e-cig more than quadrupled, from 0.6 percent of the population in 2009 to 2.7 percent in 2010. That’s more than 8 million people.”

With the problem of second hand smoke safely out of the way, e-cigs can be smoked ANYWHERE! Think about the possibilities-smoking in a movie cinema, smoking in a hospital, in a school, a petrol station, public transport and even around the terminally ill. OK- that last one might be pushing it too far, but you can see what we mean…so go ahead start the first UAE E-Cig brand (just remember to cut Kipp 10 percent).

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  1. Mr Elixir on January 31, 2012 1:38 am

    After smoking for 25 years, I switched to electronic cigarettes 5 days ago. Already, my lung capacity has increased so much that I went jogging today. If there are any dangers with the e-cigs, they can’t be close to tobacco. For anyone that is interested, I have started a blog to chart my journey from a 2 pack per day smoker to a “healthier” electronic cigarette smoker:

  2. Skyler on January 31, 2012 5:52 am

    I believe there should be no cirgarettes allowed to be used anymore. Alternatives should be embraced because it is a real addiction. This addiction not only is hurting the smokers but the people around them. People should more toward gum, or even better electronic cigarettes, which allow the person to keep the habit, but to hurt no one in the process. I am currently using Green Nicotine ( ) and it is doing wonders for me. It’s smooth and allowed me to stop my bad habits, before they hurt my children who were new borns at the time. I reccomend it to all especially if you have children or are planning to have children in the near future.

  3. Saleh Alshunnar on January 31, 2012 7:41 am

    I believe e-Cigs are illegal in the UAE. (Altho not 100% sure)

  4. Sam on January 31, 2012 8:19 am

    Interestingly I was thinking of shifting to e-cigs last night and did some research on the web to check from where I can buy the e-cigs. I was surprised to see that e-cigs are banned in the UAE and Customs have seized consignments of e-cigs in the past.

    So for the purpose of clarity, could Kipp comment on the legality of e-cigs in the UAE?

  5. Eva Fernandes on January 31, 2012 1:26 pm

    Hi Sam, thanks for your query—just got off the phone with Nada Waleed from the Ministry of Health: she confirmed e-cigarettes are not legal here in the Emirates. In fact, last year there were reports in Al Bayan of a Dh5,000 fine slapped on to those pharmacies selling e-cigs in the UAE.

    That being said, with e- cigarettes getting less dodgier—Kipp does foresee a potential lift in the ban, quite like the humble mobile camera in Saudi a few years ago.

  6. Mike Morgan on February 1, 2012 12:06 am

    Yes, electronic cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular to help avoid tobacco and reduce nicotine and odor, so see for more.

  7. MK on February 1, 2012 11:27 am

    I think the only reason that they’re banned is because there is no profit cut in it for the government here!

  8. Sam on February 1, 2012 9:44 pm

    Thanks Eva. I hope the ban is lifted soon.

    MK.. I believe its more about the strong tobacco manufacturers’ lobby which is capable of getting reports from FDA stating that e-cigs “may” be harmful and cause cancer, however, so far no such evidence has been gathered to confirm the “assumption”. Due to the latter FDA recommends that e-cigs should not be used and based upon such findings the product is banned in the UAE. Its strange that FDA came up with such a conclusion based upon assumptions and on the other hand although it is proven that cigs can cause cancer, the same are not banned. Funny isn’t it?

    Note: the writer of this comment is a chain smoker since past 25 years and represents a number of tobacco companies… Even funnier :)

  9. E-Cig Fan on February 17, 2012 3:33 pm

    Yeah, I think e-cigs would would be very profitable for whoever sells them in the UAE, especially luxury brands. But with news about batteries exploding in people’s mouths, I don’t think the ban is going to be lifted very soon.


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