Dubai raids 11 outlets selling e-cigarettes
Tobacco shops illegally selling e-cigarettes have been targeted in a city-wide crackdown.
Seven retailers were fined and had illegal goods confiscated and destroyed as part of a campaign in Al Hudaiba, Bur Dubai and Al Murar.
Municipality inspectors seized 30 electronic cigarettes from 11 outlets, as well as 100 kilograms of tobacco that was being sold in illegal packaging.
It is the latest sign that government officials remain firmly against tobacco smoking alternatives since a 100 per cent tobacco tax was introduced in the fourth quarter of last year.
The sale of e-cigarettes and e-shisha pipes is prohibited.
Shops selling vapes, e-cigs and refill liquids can have their goods confiscated and be given a warning for a first offence. Repeat offenders risk a Dh500,000 fine.
During the crackdown, 200 packets of artificially-flavoured tobacco were withdrawn because the packaging did not specify the origin of the product or its ingredients, nor did it have a health warning label – a regulatory requirement.
Smoke-free tobacco products are yet to launch in the UAE, although e-cigarettes are widely used with liquid top-ups bought overseas or from black market dealers.
In an online poll by The National of more than 600 smokers, more than half said they had tried e-cigarettes or e-pipes, despite devices and refills being banned from sale in the UAE.
Of those who had tried tobacco alternatives, 54 per cent said they were not prepared to switch to electronic devices.
One of the world’s largest tobacco producers, Philip Morris International, said almost 5 million adult smokers had quit cigarettes by switching to electric tobacco devices that heat rather than burn tobacco and do not produce the same carcinogens.
In February, Tarkan Demirbas, area vice president for Philip Morris in Dubai, said the company was committed to one day offering smokefree alternatives in the GCC.
“[But] there are commercial and regulatory requirements that must be met before we can bring a new product into a market,” he said. “I hope that those requirements are met as soon as possible so that we can begin offering better options to smokers in the GCC.”
The UAE bans the sale and import of e-cigarettes