Sharjah has inched closer in its drive to becoming an emirate that discourages the sale of tobacco products  in key public areas.
A municipality circular was issued on December 10 to cigarette vendors around the city banning the sale of cigarettes in residential areas and academic institutions.
Although the Sharjah Municipal Council made the announcement to prohibit the sale of tobacco products in Sharjah in April this year , the organisation was yet to work out an implementation strategy with the Sharjah Municipality, which is responsible for enforcing the ban.
The directive is in line with the federal anti-tobacco law issued by the Cabinet on July 21, which will take effect in January 2014 or six months from its issuance.
The law bans smoking in public places  such as places of worship, educational institutions, health and sports facilities. The law also stipulates that no tobacco products may be sold to people under 18. Smoking in private vehicles that have passengers 12 years and below is also punishable under the anti-tobacco law.
Sharjah has for years been serious in curbing the habit of smoking  among its residents due to its ill-effects on public health. During Ramadan in 2009, the Sharjah Islamic Affairs Department launched an anti-smoking campaign for that month that rewarded those who would quit the habit with Dh10,000.
In 2008, Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, issued a decree banning smoking in all public places. Lighting up cigarettes in enclosed public areas including shopping centres, restaurants, and on all modes of public transport then became illegal.
In 2000, smoking was banned in government institutions, agencies and departments. The decision came just years after the government ordered the banning of shisha and shisha cafes within the territories of the emirate.