Starting September 2009, tobacco products in the UAE will carry a message and a warning that will be hard to ignore.
Graphics of blackened lungs and a haemorrhage-impacted brain, among others, will provide stark warnings about the dangers on cigarette packs sold in the country, following in the footsteps of the UK, Canada and Brazil. Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, head of the National Tobacco Control Committee, said the World Health Organisation (WHO) donated the pictures to the UAE to help with its tobacco control efforts.
Health officials hope the graphic warning, with its inherent shock value, will help deliver the message better and discourage people to smoke. Previous revamp of the health warning on cigarette packs in September 2007 only required manufacturers to enlarge the warning text and to make the warning available in English and Arabic.
The graphic warning is one of the many steps the UAE, a signatory of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), is taking to clamp down on smoking. A federal anti-smoking draft law is expected to be passed into law soon by the Cabinet and President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan after the Federal National Council (FNC) approved it last month.
The draft law, which has been delayed for more than two years, includes several points in keeping with the FCTC requirements, including restricting advertising and sponsorship, limiting exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke, and increasing tobacco prices and tax.
Under the draft law, advertising of tobacco products in all forms of media in the UAE, which includes private television stations, cable networks, newspapers and magazines, will be banned. (sra)