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The big smoke
The UAE is planning to introduce strict measures such as taxes and graphic display messages on tobacco products to help reduce the number of smokers. Should it learn from Canada’s example?
March 4, 2009 12:46 by Aarti Nagraj
From September 2009 onwards, you will be confronted with pictures of blackened lungs and hemorrhage-impacted brains when you buy a pack of cigarettes. Graphic images accompanied by sharp warnings about the ill-effects of smoking will be placed on all tobacco products in the UAE, reports Gulf News. The move is expected to help reduce the number of smokers in the country.
According to Khaleej Times, GCC Committee for Tobacco Control is also proposing a 200 percent tax on tobacco and its products. If implemented, the proposal could double the price of a cigarette pack from AED6 to AED12.
The UAE is planning a draft anti-smoking law, which will ban the advertisement of tobacco products in all forms of media in the UAE, says Gulf News. Fines for violating the ban range from AED500,000 to AED1 million. The law will also ban the presence of children in shisha cafes, and the import of candy and toys that resemble tobacco products, among other things.
Many of these laws have been enforced in other countries with positive results. Canada has been one of the toughest enforcers of anti-tobacco laws, and going by its statistics, the number of smokers in the country has reduced drastically over the years.
According to Canadian news website cbc.ca, nearly half of all adults in the 1960s were.smokers. But the country soon began to impose tough regulations including prohibiting cigarette sales in pharmacies, drug stores and through vending machines, and banning smoking in all public places including restaurants, bars and bingo halls. In 2000, it became the first country to use graphic warnings on cigarette packages, and the next year, it banned the display of tobacco in shops.
In Quebec, it is illegal to smoke within nine meters of the doorways of many public buildings and is also illegal to sell tobacco by mail order or over the internet. The province of Saskatchewan has fines of up to $10,000 for smoking in a non smoking area.
In Ontario, bar and restaurant owners are not allowed to have designated smoking shelters (with few exceptions).
Thanks to all of this, and more, the number of 15-19 year old smokers in the country fell from 29 percent in 2002 to 15 percent in the first half of 2008. The number of smokers above the age of 15 has decreased from 35 percent in 1985 to 25 percent in 1999. It reduced further to 18 percent in the first half of 2008.
Do you think the UAE needs to impose similar regulations to reduce smoking? Will graphic images and taxes stop you from smoking?