The UAE is working on regulations to stop the illegal import of e-cigarettes, following which people who bring the product to the UAE or order them online will be held accountable, said a senior health official.

Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, head of the National Tobacco Control Committee, said: “All the e-cigarettes currently available in the country have not been imported, since no import standards have been specified. So, they are smuggled.”

Dr Al Maidoor said that a regulation was being worked upon for this but there was no time frame for its implementation.

“The GCC already has notifications that ban the import of e-cigarettes and the UAE is the only country that does not have any such rules. What we are looking at doing is working with the customs authorities and finding a way to stop people from ordering online and bringing e-cigarettes with them into the country,” she added.

She also said that other tobacco products in the country were standardised as per the Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Association (ESMA) regulations but e-cigarettes were not as they their import into the country is not allowed.

“No company in the UAE has a licence to import e-cigarettes and we do not have any plans to allow such. However, we cannot talk about the future,” she said.

Dr Al Maidoor also said that it was a well-known fact that the world over, e-cigarettes were not any safer than regular tobacco, as is commonly assumed. Other Dubai-based doctors and health experts echoed the views of Dr Al Maidoor.