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FIFA Foul On Vaping

FIFA and Qatar launch a vicious two-footed challenge on vaping and tobacco harm reduction at this year’s World Cup

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FIFA and Qatar have launched a vicious two-footed challenge on vaping and tobacco harm reduction at this year’s World Cup by banning the use of e-cigs inside stadia. The ban is effectively meaningless as the importation and use of e-cigs has been banned in the nation since 2014 anyway.

The Foreign Office notes:

  • The FIFA World Cup will take place in Qatar from 20 November to 18 December 2022.
  • If you are travelling to attend the World Cup you should sign up for email alerts to the Qatar Travel Advice page, so that you stay up to date on the latest developments. You should also monitor the official Qatar World Cup and FIFA websites for more information.
  • For further detail about what the FCDO can do to support British nationals abroad, see this guide.

Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, FIFA (football’s world governing body) and the World Health Organisation, coming together under the umbrella of The Sport for Health partnership, decreed that vaping would be banned alongside smoking within football stadiums and fan parks as part of the Qatar World Cup 2022.

Each of the partners has long promoted effective tobacco control measures, while also raising awareness around tobacco health hazards,” the representative of WHO in Qatar, Dr Rayana Bou Haka, said in a media briefing, adding “they have also backed the implementation of a tobacco-free policy at FIFA sporting events.”

Smoking and vaping rates run higher in football fans than in the general UK population, so that means 30% of the anticipated 20,000 Welsh and English fans travelling to Qatar are going to be encountering problems.

Because the UK has such a progressive attitude towards harm reduction and recognises the huge role vaping has to play in achieving a smokefree future, we tend to forget that there are many other countries around the world who are so far behind us. How any country can ban vaping over tobacco use is beyond me, and seems completely anti-science and anti-public health, VapeClub’s Dan Marchant is quoted as saying.

As explained by the Ministry of Public Health’s Dr Kholood al-Mutawaa: “The e-cigarette was banned in Qatar according to a ministry order in 2014. We have instructed all supermarkets, pharmacies and other outlets not to sell it. We have communicated with the customs department at the airport, seaport and the land border not to allow e-cigarettes into Qatar. People can't bring it to the country or order it from other countries. Others can't send it to the country either. Anyone who is in possession of e-cigarettes may be charged with appropriate action.”

He continued: “Qatar has been a frontrunner in tobacco control in the region. For the FIFA World Cup, tobacco control measures have been developed for inside and outside stadiums, especially in public places, while tobacco-free environments in fan zones will be rigorously enforced where supporters without tickets can watch games on large screens surrounded by smoke-free air.

And what of the punishment for transgressors? Confiscation of devices, fines of around £2,300 and possible three-month prison sentences await anyone daring to try to smuggle a vape into the country.

Riot Labs’ Ben Johnson told journalists: "Obviously attending a major football tournament is an incredible life experience for fans but treating Qatar like the beer garden at the local British boozer could land fans in hot water - even for just vaping.”

Riot Labs has announced a fines repayment scheme for anyone visiting Qatar for the tournament. More details can be found here:

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Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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