(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The draft legislation of the Sharjah government to ban tobacco sale at supermarkets and groceries around residential areas has been received favourably by various sectors of society.
Ramez Sawiris, Regulatory Affairs Director of GSK Consumer Healthcare, told Khaleej Times that the legislation is a positive step in raising awareness on the ills of smoking and minimising its affects on the community. "It is yet to be known how this move will impact consumption, but the decrease on the widespread availability of cigarettes will surely help smokers think more closely about the warning labels on each cigarette pack."
Similarly, Saul Shiffman, Consultant for GSK Consumer Healthcare (NiQuitin), said that despite constant reminders by the health authorities and warning labels on cigarette packs, smoking remains one of the leading preventable causes of several fatal diseases.
"It has the distinction of being one of the few substances affecting all the systems in the human body, from head to toe. Besides being a leading cause of the obvious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, smoking is known to be a major contributor to many forms of cancer. Additionally, smoking has many adverse effects that are known causes for infertility, preterm delivery and low birth weight," he said.
A very specific recommendation from Dr Ghada Fahmy, medical director and in-charge of Smoking Cessation Clinic of Al Etihad Health Centre, Ministry of Health, is that shops which continue to sell tobacco to young children and teenagers be closed down.
She said that there is a proliferation of 'meduakh', an Arabic term for some sort of smoking pipe where powdered tobacco or tobacco leaves are put in small holes of these pipe and smoked by children as young as 10. "Many Emirati mums have brought their kids in the age-group of 10 and 11 years for medical counseling. The government has to close down the shops selling such stuff as it is very harmful to them. It is indeed a great step by the Sharjah government to ban the sale of tobacco over the counter," she added.
Sudheer DH, manager of Abraj Al Nahda, a supermarket in Sharjah, said that the tobacco ban, when it will be finally implemented, will affect supermarkets because sales from tobacco alone accounts for about Dh600 daily. "It will definitely affect us as an estimated 15 to 20 per cent of our daily customers are tobacco buyers."
Filipino Ronald Villanueva, a non-smoking resident of Sharjah for the past eight years, said that even with the ban, it will be difficult to implement the rule as 70 to 80 per cent of males smoke in this emirate. "Many might protest against it and trade in the blackmarket may rise."
Lebanese Elizabeth Mekhjian, whose husband died of lung cancer, told Khaleej Times that this is good news for her as she supports anti-smoking. "My husband died of lung cancer at 71 even though he quit smoking 20 years before he died. But, the effect of tobacco had long settled in his system."
Emirati smokers Ahmed Al Shamsi, 18, and his cousin Jassim Al Shamsi, said they would stop smoking when the ban is implemented. But, they believed that the ban will lead to 'blackmarket selling' of tobacco and may not really contribute much in stopping teenagers from smoking.