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UKVIA’s World Cup Warning

The UK Vaping Industry Association warns travelling fans that restrictions will be rigorously enforced in and around all eight stadiums hosting the event

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British World Cup fans could pay a massive penalty for breaching Qatar’s vaping ban, warns the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA). It cautions travelling fans that restrictions will be rigorously enforced in and around all eight stadiums hosting the event and that they could suffer the harshest of penalties if they are caught vaping during their visit.

Vaping is illegal in Qatar, and with fines of up to 10,000 Riyals (around £2,200) or a maximum three-month jail term, fans will want to ensure they don’t fall foul of the law.

Now the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) is warning the 20,000 England and Wales fans who are expected to make the journey, not to be caught offside by the country’s strict laws.

The UKVIA is worried that not only could the vape ban ruin the trip for anyone caught vaping but could also lead to many potentially returning to smoking, as cigarettes remain legal in Qatar.

However, for the duration of the World Cup, both vaping and smoking will be banned at all eight stadiums hosting the event in Doha.

And while excitement mounts ahead of the opening games for the 32 World Cup teams, there is another less publicised team which will enforce the ban.

Eighty ‘tobacco inspectors’ have been recruited to support FIFA volunteers and security staff in ensuring that anyone flouting the FIFA Event Policy on Tobacco is brought to book.

UKVIA Director General John Dunne said: “We are extremely disappointed that vaping is outlawed in Qatar as it flies in the face of all the evidence that it is a much safer alternative to smoking and is also the best method to quit.

“It is important that this policy is highlighted because I am sure that many football fans travelling from the UK will not be aware of the country’s vaping ban, nor of the particular clampdown during the World Cup, and the last thing we want to see is fans getting arrested.

“My other concern is that where vaping is banned, this will only encourage vapers to access black market products and we obviously do not want to see that happen.

“Furthermore, with cigarettes being readily available at locations outside of the World Cup, and vaping banned outright, this could lead to vapers switching back to cigarettes – an outcome that surely nobody wants to see.”

The World Health Organisation said that implementing tobacco and smoke-free measures at the World Cup would make the tournament ‘healthy and safe’ while ‘ensuring fans can enjoy the match without exposure to second-hand smoke’.

Dr Kholoud Ateeq K M Al-Motawaa, head of noncommunicable disease for Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health, said Qatar had been ‘a frontrunner in tobacco control’ in the region.

He added: “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.”

FIFA’s Head of Sustainability Federico Addiechi said: “For two decades, global tournaments have been played in tobacco-free environments, but it is a necessary step to strengthen the implementation of that policy in Doha in November and December and we are committed to do so."

The UKVIA said the policy ignores that nicotine vapes are not tobacco products, that they do not produce smoke and that the vapour exhaled from vaping is not comparable to cigarette smoke.

The National Health Service says in its online advice to help smokers quit: “Smoking e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, doesn't produce tobacco smoke so the risks of passive smoking with conventional cigarettes don't apply to e-cigs.

“Research into this area is ongoing, but it seems that e-cigs release negligible amounts of nicotine into the atmosphere and the limited evidence available suggests that any risk from passive vaping to bystanders is small relative to tobacco cigarettes.”

The Qatari government has been widely criticised in the run up to the World Cup for its regressive policies where it is illegal to drink alcohol, have sex while unmarried, eat pork, be in a same sex relationship or campaign for the LGBTQ+ community.

The country follows the anti-vaping rhetoric of the World Health Organisation despite overwhelming scientific research showing that vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking and is the most effective method of helping smokers quit.

In September, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) reaffirmed that ‘vaping poses only a small fraction of the risk of smoking and is at least 95% less harmful than smoking’, a figure which has remained unchanged since its predecessor, Public Health England (PHE), released its first evidence review into nicotine vaping in 2015.

The UKVIA’s John Dunne added: “Qatar’s vape ban, especially when combined with this World Cup clampdown, does nothing to protect people’s health, in fact it is quite the opposite and encourages people to either return to smoking or seek potentially dangerous black market vape products instead.”


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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