UAE paper emphasizes greater awareness on adverse effect of smoking in GCC
WAM ABU DHABI, 27th December, 2013 (WAM) — Almost eight years after it was first drafted, the UAE’s Anti-Tobacco Law would come into effect on January 21, starting the new year with a renewed effort to improve public health, says a local daily.
In its editorial comment, the Khaleej Times writes, “As part of their new-year resolutions, smokers would do well to resolve to quit smoking since the new law would come down heavily on violators. With a study in capital Abu Dhabi having found that 28 per cent of youngsters aged less than 15 were acquainted with the art of puffing, it is an especially welcome move that now smoking inside cars is also banned if the passengers include a child below 12. ” It is common to see that families where parents smoke have the children smoking as well as they are familiar with the activity and also have the means of smoking close at hand. There is also the factor of passive smoking. Smokers’ family members are the most liable to suffer from the ills of passive smoking, sharing the same living space with them. “The ban on the sale of cigarettes in groceries and small shops in Sharjah and Ajman is also a commendable measure. Many small shops sell loose cigarettes and do not insist on proof of age when youngsters ask for them. Besides, the statutory warnings on cigarette packs become redundant if cigarettes are sold loosely. Perhaps in the days to come the UAE government would also consider levying heftier tax on tobacco products, which would contribute to a drop in sales,” the paper opined.
The crackdown on tobacco smoking, which also includes measures to control sheesha smoking, is part of a larger drive in the GCC region. Tobacco smoking is the biggest reason for lung cancer while exposure to tobacco smoke could increase the risk of cancer by 15 to 20 per cent. As the member states step up consultations to synchronise anti-tobacco initiatives, consideration should also be given to creating greater awareness in the region on the adverse effects of smoking. The paper writes, “As a regional leader, any effort taken by the UAE would go a long way.” WAM/AM