The World Cup in Qatar will draw soccer fans from all across the world. However, football fans who anticipate vaping will be in for a shock when they arrive in the tiny Arab nation. Vaping is prohibited in Qatar, just like a lot of other “vices” that are common elsewhere in the world.
Every four years, national teams from all over the world compete in the World Cup. 32 teams have qualified for the first World Cup to be contested in an Arab nation this year through preparatory regional competitions. The competition runs from Nov. 20, when group playoffs begin, through Dec. 18, when the title game will take place.
It was contentious from the beginning to choose Qatar as the host nation. The conservative Muslim monarchy’s restrictive rules on sex and alcohol usage, its track record on human rights issues, and the unfavourable working conditions experienced by foreign workers constructing stadiums and other tournament infrastructure have all been cited as reasons to question the decision. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the organisation that governs soccer, has also been accused of accepting bribes.
Vapes are strictly prohibited in Qatar
In Qatar, vaping devices are totally forbidden. They cannot be utilised, bought, sold, imported, or even owned. Travelers’ goods may be seized by customs officials at the point of entry, and while agents may simply seize and discard them, foreign visitors may also face criminal charges for possession or importation.
The stringent ban on vaping in the nation carries fines of up to $2,700 or jail terms of up to three months. According to the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (GSTHR) website, vaping is prohibited in Qatar as of 2014. For heated tobacco products like IQOS, the same limitations and sanctions apply.
In a news release applauding Qatar’s World Cup tobacco and nicotine restrictions, a World Health Organization (WHO) tobacco control official said, “The FIFA World Cup being staged in Qatar in 2022 gives a powerful opportunity to take global tobacco control efforts to a new level.”
Smokeless tobacco, including snus, and nicotine pouches are permitted and reportedly sold in Qatar, but even the use of oral products that are imperceptible to the naked eye in places where smoking is prohibited may be prohibited, according to GSTHR. Although nicotine gum and other NRT products are lawful, they may only be purchased with a prescription and are only available in pharmacies.
In an unpleasant marketing stunt, a UK e-liquid producer has volunteered to cover the fines imposed on British vapers by Qatari courts. Their advertisement offers compensation for any fines paid, although it is unclear how they will pay back jail time.
Smoking is allowed – along with flogging and stoning
Of course, smoking is permitted in Qatar. In fact, more than 25% of Qatari males smoke, and this number appears to be increasing. (In Qatar, just 0.6% of women smoke, in contrast to the substantial smoking rate among men. In nations where women’s rights and liberties are restricted by an authoritarian patriarchy, such a gap is not rare.)
With fewer than three million citizens, Qatar is a small but prosperous Muslim nation on the Persian Gulf (about 90 percent of which are not citizens). The nation has large natural gas reserves. With Saudi Arabia, which it shares many conservative customs, regulations, and labour practises, Qatar’s only border. In Qatar, women were not permitted to vote until 1999, and some offences are still punishable by public whipping or stoning.
According to a recent source, beer (and other alcoholic beverages) cannot be purchased at any of Qatar’s eight World Cup stadiums. According to reports, the Qatari royal family made the choice. Why the government waited until two days before the tournament started to declare the alcohol ban—when the nation has had 12 years to do so—was not made clear.