Smoking in Public in UAE

Some twenty years ago it was almost imaginable to even think about prohibiting smoking in  public places anywhere in UAE. Especially in Dubai. But new times meant some new rules and measures. As people from the Western world started rushing to Dubai to try their luck in different areas of expertise, they were also trying to impose some of the rules and ways of life that are common in their native countries.

It is well known that Arabs are heavy smokers. It is like that in entire Golf area. Even fairytales and legends from that part of the world are full of descriptions of people, mostly men of course, smoking their nargilla  or cigarettes, and releasing heavy smoke from their mouth while they think and talk.  Anti-smoking campaigns became some kind of a frenzy at the beginning of the century. World Health Organization started war against smoking in public. Very soon, all of the countries from the EU introduced different forms of smoking bans; at the beginning it was smoking and non-smoking areas in restaurants, coffee shops, molls and airports, but very soon it came to that that one is allowed to smoke only in the privacy of their own home or in the street; streets were also off the charts in some countries.

Around 2008, UAE were forced to consider banning smoking in public. At first it was very hard; natives were extremely aggravated by this new development, but it was obvious that some changes needed to be made because Dubai, and other big cities of UAE were kind of depending on foreigners, and foreigners didn’t want to stay in smoky hotels or dine in smoky restaurants or walk and shop in smoky molls. That is when things started to change. It was decided that every package of cigarettes must have pictorial warning; it is some kind of picture showing horrible consequences of smoking followed by text saying how bad smoking is for you. At first it was decided that these warnings are to cover 50% of the package, but in 2016. the decision was made that warnings should cover 70% of the package.

The first thing that actually had  real effect was when they had to raise the prices, and taxis for the cigarettes; it is only normal to give up on something that is too expensive for you. They formed a special division that should “hunt” for the smokers in public and give them tickets. This practice wasn’t very successful.

Pictorial warnings that cover 70% of the package are yet to be printed and the packages will have nothing more than a distinct name of the product and some simple colors. It is called “plain package”.

It remains to be seen if these methods will make Arab people to smoke less or quit smoking.