Vaping banned at the World Cup
The football World Cup is taking place in Qatar from 30 November to 18 December and Qatari officials are warning vapers that they are not allowed to import or use their devices. The officials say that this is due to them following instructions from FIFA and the World Health Organisation, but the truth is that e-cigs and e-liquids have been banned in the country since 2014.
The 2014 ban made it illegal for anyone to import, sell, buy or use a vaping device with e-liquid. Those prepared to run the risk of doing so stand to face a fine of around £2,300 or, far worse, a possible three-month prison sentence.
Almost all football grounds in the United Kingdom appear to have a rule banning vaping during matches but this is frequently ignored by people who choose to stealth vape (holding the vapour in your lungs longer so that there is nothing visible when you exhale).
Stealth vaping is probably not going to be possible at the Qatar World Cup as 80 dedicated “tobacco inspectors” have been contracted to keep a close eye on fans and leap into action if they see anybody who looks like they might be about to bend the rules.
In addition, the regular stadium staff and volunteer FIFA officials have also been instructed to keep an eye out for anyone who might be using an electronic cigarette.
Dr Kholoud Ateeq K M Al-Motawaa, the head of noncommunicable disease for Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health said: “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.”
Arguing that e-cig vape is not cigarette smoke and that research has shown it poses no danger to bystanders is probably not going to work well as a tactic.
FIFA’s Head of Sustainability, Federico Addiechi commented: “The FIFA World Cup in Qatar will have a global audience of five billion people, which gives football a significant platform for social change. 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.”
One leading UK e-liquid manufacturer has gone so far as to offer a Qatar Fine Replacement Pilot Scheme. On the surface, it is offering to reimburse anyone who is fined for vaping – but it states: “The importation of e-cigarettes and use of them in Qatar is against the law and visitors to the country use them at their own risk. Any fine application will be assessed on its own merits and [we reserve] the right not to fulfil payment.”
So, if you are heading off to enjoy a month of football, maybe taking some nicotine gum, patches, and pouches may be the best approach.