Dubai issues warning over vaping in public places

Anyone caught smoking e-cigarettes in public could face a fine of up to Dh2,000

Some experts warn the full impact of e-cigarettes on a user's health is yet to be determined. Reuters
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People caught vaping or using an e-cigarette in unauthorised areas in Dubai will be hit with a fine of up to Dh2,000.

Dubai Municipality has announced that the use of the devices - the sale of which was made legal in the UAE for the first time earlier this year - will be subject to the same laws as those who light up using traditional cigarettes.

Locations where smoking is banned include places of worship, schools, universities and shopping malls as well as health and pharmaceutical facilities.

It is also prohibited to smoke on board vehicles that are transporting food, medicine, petrol and chemicals.

“The municipality will monitor any violation related to vaping in public places,” said Nasseem Mohammad Rafie, acting director of the Health and Safety department at Dubai Municipality.

“Specialists in the municipality will take the necessary measures to track down violators who smoke e-cigarettes in public places.”

Anyone who smokes in a non-smoking area will face a fine of up to Dh1,000, while those who breach the specific terms of a designated smoking area could be made to pay as much as Dh2,000.

It was announced in February that it would no longer be illegal to sell e-cigarettes and vaping devices in the UAE.

Officials said they expected e-cigarettes to be on sale this month.

The new rules - known as UAE.S 5030 - allowed the sale of electronic cigarettes, electronic pipes, electronic shisha devices plus the liquid refills.

Concerns about the spread of unregulated e-cigarettes were believed to have led to the removal of the ban.

“The aim is to curb the random and unrestrained circulation of these products, to ensure ingredients are known with no addition of banned elements that pose a health risk,” said Ms Rafie.

“The goal is also to support the efforts to end smoking, fight the resulting diseases and regulate e-cigarette trade in the UAE in coordination with the relevant authorities in each emirate.”

Medical experts in the region retain reservations over what impact vaping and e-cigarettes have on people.

"We are still not sure of the long term impact of vaping, it seems we are just replacing one bad habit with another," Dr Fadi Baladi, medical director for Burjeel Day Surgery Centre, Abu Dhabi, told The National in February.

“Vaping may be less harmful, but could still be a health problem in the future.

“People who are experiencing clinical chronic health problems like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchitis, are still having medical issues, despite switching from tobacco to e-cigarettes.”