THE UAE is at the centre of a plan to ramp up its ban on vaping but not cigarettes – saying it’s “a well known fact” they are no better than tobacco.
The country is bringing in further stringent regulations to ensure there is no way e-cigarettes can be brought into the country while cigarettes, although heavily taxed, remain easily available
In a statement which has shocked pro-vapers, Head of the National Tobacco Control Committee, Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, explained a proposal to work better with customs to clamp down on e-cigarettes, adding it was a “well known fact” e-cigarettes are no better than cigarettes and do not really help to quit smoking.
Branded by pro-vapers as “comedic”, “out-of-date” and neither “well known” nor “fact”, her statement comes just a month after Public Health England reported vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than cigarettes following research by some of the world’s top experts and scientists.
Despite further world-class reports on the health benefits of vaping, compared with tobacco smoking, the UAE’s ban on e-cigarettes is to be ramped up. Officials are now working on regulations to stop their illegal import with people bringing the product to the country or ordering them online being held accountable.
“All the e-cigarettes currently available in the country have not been imported, since no import standards have been specified. So, they are smuggled,” Dr Wedad Al Maidoor told the Khaleej Times, adding a regulation is now being worked on to stop it.
“What we are looking at doing is working with the customs authorities and finding a way to stop people from ordering online and bringing e-cigarettes with them into the country.”
She also said that other tobacco products in the country were standardised as per the Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Association (ESMA) regulations but e-cigarettes were not as their import into the country is not allowed.
“No company in the UAE has a licence to import e-cigarettes and we do not have any plans to allow such. However, we cannot talk about the future,” she added.
Dr Al Maidoor then went on to say it was “a well-known fact” the world over that e-cigarettes were not any safer than regular tobacco.
She said: “E-cigarettes do not help with quitting smoking as its promoters claim,”, adding that it only leads to tobacco addiction in a different way.
Other Dubai-based doctors and health experts echoed the views of Dr Al Maidoor with Dr Maan Jamal, a consultant at Emirates Hospital Jumeirah, going one step further, saying: “Regulating e-cigarettes is a positive step, keeping in mind the benefits of people who quit smoking. But e-cigarettes still contain fumes that may trigger coughing as well as nasal and eye irritation to smokers and the people around them.”
In stark contrast, several reports in the UK, US and New Zealand in the past year have advocated the use of e-cigarettes for smokers trying to quit, with Public Health England announcing in February vaping was 95 per cent less harmful than cigarettes.
In its report it also suggested hospitals allow patients to have vaping zones and e-cigarettes be allowed to be given as a smoking cessation aid on prescription.