Approximately 37% of the entire population of Qatar aged 15 years and older are certified tobacco consumers in 2018. This means nearly 31.9% of men and 1.2% of women smoke in some form or the other. These numbers, according to Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Tobacco Control Centre, are high and the problem of tobacco consumption needs to be attended to directly before it gets out of control.
Smoking is the primary cause of illness and human death rates globally, and present trends reveal that tobacco will cause more than 8 million mortalities by 2030. Compared to non-smokers, smokeless tobacco users and cigarette smokers have a markedly higher risk for cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
However, notwithstanding all these overwhelming statistics and health hazards, people just won't quit the bad habit. Smoking is still very apparent in the streets of Doha especially in public places where families come to visit and enjoy their day. People smoke everywhere they want and toss their cigarette butts all over the place without placing any value on the laws that govern it.
Absolutely, there are laws in Qatar to protect smokers and even non-smokers, too, with all of the violations and penalties meticulously enumerated, but the question remains, how well do you know these tobacco laws? Continue scrolling to fully comprehend and be mindful of them.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), throughout the years, has succeeded in organising annual public awareness campaigns in the country to emphasise Tobacco Laws in Qatar. Their campaigns aim to inspire residents to follow the tobacco control laws and to highlight the penalties for any violations of these very important laws. It also urges people to report individuals who commit violations of the Tobacco Law.
In one of his speeches promoting this advocacy, Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani, Director of Public Health, emphasised the need to respect the seriousness of these laws:
“Smoking is a significant public health concern in Qatar, therefore it is vital that we increase our efforts to combat tobacco use. The National Health Strategy 2018-2022 sets a target of reducing the prevalence of smoking, and achieving this includes enforcement of our law on tobacco control; which is not only designed to reduce tobacco consumption in Qatar but also to protect non-smokers – such as children – who are exposed to harmful second-hand smoke.”
Law No. 10 of 2016 On The Control of Tobacco and Its Derivatives, is a set of 25 articles drafted and completed into laws by the His Highness The Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani. It covers the distinctive situations, circumstances, violations, and penalties concerning the usage, control, and handling of tobacco in the country. To clearly understand all the articles and provisions under this law, we categorised and simplified them.
Article 2: Growing or manufacturing of tobacco or its derivatives is not allowed in Qatar. You can not sell it whether through preparation, mixing with other substances, or packing in any form.
Article 3: Each person who imports, sells, offers for sale, or possesses tobacco and its derivatives for the purpose of sale or storage, shall observe the terms and conditions contained in this Law and the implementing regulations pertaining thereto.
Article 4: Every tobacco cargo coming inside the country must first undergo testing and should pass an approved standard set by the Ministry. Only shipments approved by the Ministry can enter Qatar.
Article 5: The amount of tar and nicotine allowed in one cigarette shall be determined by a decision from the Minister before it can be distributed.
Article 6: The date of expiry and the cautionary statements and images for smoking, must be clearly seen on each unit of tobacco or derivatives or cigarette package.
Article 7: Importing, circulating, displaying, selling, distributing, or manufacturing chewing tobacco, in any form and under any name, shall be prohibited. (This includes manufacturing electronic cigarettes, shisha or simulators of smoking tools and Sweika)
Article 8: The sale of cigarettes and all types of tobacco and its derivatives to any person under the age of 18 shall be prohibited. Ignorance of the law shall not be an excuse and the seller shall take all necessary precautions to ascertain the age of the buyer.
Article 9: The advertising, promoting, or sponsoring of cigarettes or tobacco or its derivatives to encourage smoking is not allowed in public places and by any advertising media in Qatar.
Article 10: The allocation of stores for sales of cigarettes, tobacco, or its derivatives without obtaining a license is prohibited.
Article 11: The sale, circulation, or display of any quantity of tobacco or its derivatives after its expiry date is prohibited.
Article 12: Smoking is prohibited in closed public places such as:
Article 13: The sale of cigarettes or tobacco or its derivatives at a distance of fewer than 1,000 meters from schools and other educational and training institutions is not allowed.
Article 14: 5% of the proceeds of customs duties on tobacco and its derivatives are allocated and entered into the Ministry’s budget for the purpose of spending on health education and combating all forms of smoking.
Article 15: The Ministry has the right to close any store or establishment that violates the provisions of this Law. Penalties range from temporary closure for a month for the first offense, two months for the 2nd offense, and 3 months for the 3rd or next offense.
Article 16: A penalty not exceeding QR 100,000 shall be imposed on anyone who violates any of the provisions stipulated in articles 2, 3, 4 (first paragraph), 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 13 of this Law.
Article 17: A penalty of not less than QR 1,000, not exceeding QR 3,000 shall be given to anyone who smokes cigarettes or tobacco or its derivatives or permits smoking, in closed public places where smoking is prohibited.
Article 18: A penalty not exceeding QR 3000 shall be given anyone who smokes cigarettes while driving a vehicle in the presence of any person under the age of 18.
Article 19: A corporate person shall be penalized with a fine not exceeding QR 100,000 should any of the crimes stipulated in this Law be committed on its behalf or in its name, without prejudice to the liability of the natural person.
Article 20: In case of conviction of any of the crimes stipulated in this Law, the court may order the confiscation, re-exportation, or destruction of the cigarettes or Sweika or tobacco or its derivatives or electronic cigarettes or shisha involved in the violation, irrespective of the quantity.
Recently, the MoPH announced a smoking cessation 'Quitline' to improve quit rates among Qatari smokers who just refuse to quit. The project which is still in its developing stages is a collaboration between the MoPH and the Arizona Smokers' Helpline (ASHline) in the USA.
Smokers now have the opportunity to receive counseling on problem-solving, management of cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms, coping skills training, and a blend of elements of various evidence-based strategies for behavioral change. With this project, the ministry targets to lessen the use of tobacco across the country.
There are a quite number of laws when it comes to tobacco use here in Qatar. But it's sad to know that these laws are often neglected and are not taken into consideration by others. As responsible citizens, we should follow and respect them to help improve the quality of life. Tell us what you think about this article in the comments section below, and don’t forget to like and share this – it keeps us going!
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