Will the UAE Lift Its E-Cigarette Ban?

07 November 2018

Lab Chat

The United Arab Emirates could be set to lift its long-standing ban on e-cigarettes. Government consumer watchdog, the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) has begun reviewing data to assess whether alternative tobacco products should be permitted.

Rethinking a flawed system

Currently, alternative tobacco products are banned in the UAE due to concerns over their health impacts. Smoking is also banned in all public spaces, including outdoor educational, sports and health areas and any places of worship.

Despite the nationwide ban, e-cigarettes are still widely used across the Emirates. People are getting hold of the illegal products overseas or purchasing them from black market dealers. The dangers increase dramatically when the products are being brought into the country illegally, with no set rules.

To avoid this, ESMA is now considering how they can regulate and control all novel tobacco products. The safety and quality of the products is the main priority, with potentially dangerous repercussions without proper regulations.

Potential health impacts

While the long-term health impacts of ‘vaping’ are still unknown, it has been proven that using an e-cigarette doesn’t alter the composition of the gut in the same way that tobacco does. New technologies, such as the Iqos, can reduce the potential exposure to harmful chemicals even further.

Iqos works by heating tobacco, as opposed to burning it, reducing the combustion, ash and smoke. The lower temperature also reduces the amount of harmful chemicals that are released. So, the negative health impacts of ‘vaping’ are much less than those of traditional smoking.

A popular trend

Despite the uncertainty surrounding ‘vaping’, it’s a highly popular and ever-growing alternative to smoking. In the UK alone, an estimated 2.9 million adults use e-cigarettes in 2017. Of those 2.9 million, a whopping 1.5 million are ex-smokers, choosing only to ‘vape’ rather than traditional tobacco smoking.

From those 2.9 million ‘vapers’, however, only 13% of those questioned thought that e-cigarettes were a lot less harmful than cigarettes, with 26% thinking they are more or equally as harmful. So, if the benefits aren’t health related, why are so many people jumping on this trend?

According to ASH’s study, most of those questioned gave saving money and quitting smoking as the main motivators to start using e-cigarettes. With less nicotine than tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes can be used to ween the user off the addictive substance.

A positive change

All in all, with less harmful chemicals released, e-cigarettes are better for both users and the environment than traditional tobacco smoke. So, it’s argued, lifting the ban on alternative products could lead to a reduction in the number of smokers – boosting the health of the nation and the environment.

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