The Advisory Council yesterday approved the draft anti-tobacco law that stipulates stricter punishment for smoking in closed public places. The draft law has stipulated strict measures to curb the import and use of tobacco products and its derivatives and a ban on electronic cigarettes, “sweika” and other chewing tobacco. The Council in its weekly regular meeting yesterday discussed a report of the Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee on the draft law and decided to submit its recommendations to the Cabinet.
The draft law bans smoking in closed public places and stipulates fines not exceeding QR3,000 for smoking or using tobacco products and their derivatives in such areas. Permitting others to smoke in such places is also an offence punishable with a similar fine. The court can order confiscation, destroying or re-exporting of tobacco products and their derivatives, seized for violating the law, irrespective of the quantity.
The court can also order closure of a shop violating the law for a period not exceeding three months, and the decision must be published in two daily newspapers on the expense of the erring outlet. Five percent of the customs fees on tobacco products will be allocated for health awareness programmes. Importers of cigarettes and other tobacco products and their derivatives must inform the Ministry of Public Health in a written form at least one week before arrival of the shipment for checking whether they fulfil the required specifications.
The draft law bans import of such products without a written permission from the authorities concerned. And the Minister of Public Health will issue a decision on the permitted quantity of nicotine in cigarettes. Each packet or box of cigarette and other tobacco products must carry the expiry date and graphic warnings about the harmful effects of using such products.
The draft law stipulates a ban on import, trading, promoting or selling of chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes. It bans sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to those aged below 18 years. Advertisements for promoting cigarettes and other tobacco products are not allowed, as per the draft law. Selling such products in areas at a distance of less than 1km from schools and other educational and training institutions will also be banned.