One in Five UAE University Students Are Vapers

Since the legalisation of vaping products in 2019, vaping rates among students in the United Arab Emirates have increased significantly.

In August 2019, UAE Government consumer watchdog, the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA), had confirmed that new regulations known as UAE.S 5030 will allow the legal sale of e-cigarettes and vaping devices. The regulator had added that manufacturers would be required to meet new standards, including health warnings similar to those on traditional cigarette packets.

Director general of ESMA, Abdulla Al Maeeni, had said that a concern about the spread of unregulated e-cigarettes was among the reasons behind this decision. He added that many users have a “lack of knowledge of the ingredients used”, and that by regulating sales, ESMA can ensure quality and safety standards.

Meanwhile, a recent study found that nearly a quarter of students, at 23%, in the UAE used an e-cigarette in the past month. The study was conducted by researchers, from Maudsley Health and Al Amal Psychiatric Hospital, both in Dubai, and Liverpool John Moores University in the UK, and published their findings in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

The compiled data also indicated that male students were twice as likely to try e-cigarettes than females and to perceive them as less harmful than their female counterparts.

“This is consistent with previous research about tobacco smoking among university students in the UAE, where males are more likely to consume tobacco,” explained the researchers. “In the GCC, this pattern has also been observed in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. This could be due to smoking being more socially acceptable for males in this region and that they could also be subject to peer influence.

Vapes subject to the same laws as cigarettes
In other news, the Dubai Municipality had previously announced that the use of the devices, would be subject to the same laws as those who light up traditional cigarettes. “The municipality will monitor any violation related to vaping in public places,” said Nasseem Mohammad Rafie, acting director of the Health and Safety department at Dubai Municipality. “Specialists in the municipality will take the necessary measures to track down violators who smoke e-cigarettes in public places.”

Vapers caught using their devices in non-smoking areas will face fines of up to Dh1,000 (240Euros), while those who breach the specific terms of a designated smoking area could be made to pay as much as Dh2,000.