Watch: UAE companies, government departments to enforce no-smoking policies

Where can you smoke in the UAE?
The handbook was developed by the ministry’s National Tobacco Control Programme. Image used for illustrative purpose only.
Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: Government and private workplaces in the UAE will now have to follow a new set of guidelines that will create healthier, safer and more productive work environments by eliminating smoking-related hazards. The new guidelines will help entities enforce no-smoking policies and help employees quit smoking.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) on Monday announced the launch of a tobacco-free workplace guide as part of its ongoing efforts to combat smoking in all forms, protect community members from the public health dangers associated with smoking, and improve the quality of life in work environments.

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The handbook, developed by the Ministry’s National Tobacco Control Programme, offers a comprehensive explanation of the measures implemented to create a tobacco-free workplace.

It outlines the detrimental effects of smoking on individual health and the environment, along with the benefits of quitting. Additionally, the guide provides practical instructions for managers and employees on establishing a smoke-free environment, detailing procedures for handling violations, and offering steps to assist employees in quitting smoking.

Effective measures

Dr Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Undersecretary for the Public Health Sector, said: “MoHAP’s Tobacco-Free Workplace Guide will be used as a key resource and tool to assist both government and private entities in fostering a workplace free from the use of all tobacco products. It also comes in line with the UAE’s commitment to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), ratified in 2005, aiming to implement effective measures that protect against exposure to tobacco smoke in workplaces, public transportation, and public places.”

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The UAE is considered one of the leading countries in tobacco control, having enacted Federal Law No. 15 of 2009 on Combating Tobacco, followed by comprehensive executive regulations governing all tobacco-related activities. These regulations aim to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces and prohibit the use of tobacco in any form in various public areas, including government buildings, healthcare and educational institutions, and public transportation, among others.

Previous warning

The handbook comes days after the ministry issued a warning against the promotion of electronic smoking products as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes due to the lack of scientific evidence supporting these claims.

In a statement marking World No-Tobacco Day on May 31, the Ministry emphasised that it has set a comprehensive strategy to curb tobacco use and create a smoke-free environment. This strategy includes a national programme specifically designed to reduce tobacco consumption, which aligns with the national health indicators

Reducing tobacco consumption

Dr Al Rand highlighted MoHAP’s extensive initiatives to combat tobacco use, ranging from monitoring and tracking tobacco consumption to protecting community members from exposure to smoking. These initiatives extend to providing cessation services, educating the public on the harms of tobacco, and enforcing bans on tobacco advertising. Additionally, he underscored the Ministry’s support for the government’s decision to implement an excise tax on tobacco products starting in 2019.

He noted that these efforts have successfully decreased the tobacco consumption rate from 11.1 per cent in 2010 to 9.1 per cent in 2018, as reported by the National Health Survey. Dr Al Rand also highlighted that the UAE is on track to meet the Global NCD Action Plan 2025, achieving a significant reduction in tobacco use prevalence in recent years, as documented in the World Health Organization’s latest global report on tobacco trends.