The Emirates Authority For Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) announced in February 2019 that since mid of April 2019, the sale of electronic cigarettes will be legalized and regulated. Up until before April 2019, the import and sale of e cigarettes or vaping devices and liquids were not permitted, but that has changed now after this rule has come into effect.

The Emirates Authority For Standardization & Metrology is a UAE government body that governs and approves a variety of products including electronic nicotine products for import and sale in the country. ESMA has put in place a comprehensive procedure for approvals for electronic nicotine products, which fosters quality and tested products are brought in the UAE market. All ESMA approved products are subject to 100% excise duty/tax as per UAE Cabinet Decision 52.

As per Abdullah Al Muaini, Director General of ESMA, the body “Aims to issue this standard to regulate and create awareness about the ingredients used in the products, in order to ensure no banned substances are mixed in these products, posing danger to public health”. Mr. Muaini said one of the reasons why the UAE government is regulating and legalizing e cigarettes is because they were earlier widely sold in the grey market.

This rule applies to all electronic nicotine products, which are used as alternatives to conventional combustible cigarettes, including electronic shisha, electronic cigarettes, electronic pipes, vaping devices as well as the e-liquid bottles. The category of heat not burn products, wherein tobacco is heated instead of burnt is also covered in these rules by ESMA.

ESMA has also provided the precise warnings in both Arabic and English that need to appear in each e cigarette or vape product that is to be sold in UAE. Hence as of today, all importers, distributors and retailers can legally trade in battery powered electronic cigarettes, nicotine containing e liquids, and heat not burn products in UAE provided they meet ESMA standards and pay all applicable duties and taxes.