Scepticism over UAE ban on smoking in cars

Police have yet to decide how to enforce the new law that prevents smoking inside cars when there are children below the age of 12 inside.

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DUBAI //Residents are sceptical over whether police will be able to enforce a ban on smoking in cars if children under 12 are inside.

A law banning the practice issued last month is to be enforced from next year, but traffic police have not yet decided how to do so.

"We have to yet to be requested formally to implement this law but we are currently studying several mechanisms for its enforcement," said Maj Gen Mohammed Saif Al Zaffin, head of the Dubai Police's traffic department.

He suggested that fines could prove less effective in stopping the behaviour than parents simply learning to act responsibly.

"Smoking inside a car is extremely dangerous for children's health," he said.

"There should be a form of personal responsibility towards children, regardless of any punishment."

Many residents welcomed the law, but wondered how feasible it would be for police to enforce it.

Monther Al Qammaz, the father of a one-year-old girl, welcomed the move, despite being a smoker.

"I personally do not smoke in any closed place when my baby is around, but there are many people who are more scared of penalties than of their children's health, so this law is good for them," he said.

"But I am not sure how police would be able to catch smokers inside cars, especially at night with tinted windows."

His wife, Dana Hamaideh, said that on rare occasions her husband was so desperate for a cigarette that he was tempted to smoke in the car.

"When he is in such a moment I have to intervene and stop any such act," she said.

"Having anti-smoking laws help me in my arguments with my husband and it also deters people who do not have any self control."

But she also wondered how easy it would be to implement the law, highlighting the legislation against throwing rubbish from cars, which carries a fine of Dh500 and four black points.

"Police can barely implement the law fining people who throw trash into the road from their vehicles," she said.

"How will they be able to catch an act which is done in the car while it is moving?"

Hamsa Khaled, a mother of two, agreed.

"How will they know? It is impossible," she said. "They cannot control people inside their cars, especially because the majority of cars have tinted windows."

Windows tinted more than 30 per cent are illegal. The penalty for breaking this rule is a Dh500 fine and having your car impounded for 30 days, according to the Ministry of Interior.

Mrs Khaled agreed with Maj Gen Al Zaffin that it might be easier for parents to simply grow up.

"If parents do not understand the importance of not subjecting their children to smoke in a car, no rule will prevent them from smoking," she said. "If you cannot stop yourself no one can stop you."