Introduction

With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 starting soon, people who use nicotine and are planning to visit Qatar have questions about the possession and use of nicotine and tobacco products in the country. We provide a complete set of the necessary information on this subject on our website.[1] Trusted information is essential for the safety of travellers who use nicotine products and will prevent them from unknowingly breaking the law or informal rules of behaviour. This short guide provides the most accurate information that we have available to us.

Disclaimer

THE INFORMATION WE PROVIDE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE

The GSTHR database is updated regularly by our team. However, please be aware that the information we provide does not constitute legal advice. We cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, as the regulatory status of different product categories can change at short notice and with little publicity. If you have reason to think that the information supplied is inaccurate, please email [email protected]


E-cigarettes

According to Article 7 of Law No 10 on Tobacco Control and Tobacco Derivatives, it is illegal to import, sell, purchase and also use e-cigarettes. Violation of this provision carries a fine of up to 10,000 Qatari Rials (US$2,700) or imprisonment for three months.

It is not allowed to sell or possess electronic cigarettes [e-cigarettes or nicotine vaping products] in Qatar, said Dr Kholood al-Mutawaa, Head of the Non-Communicable Disease Department at the Ministry of Public Health.

"E-cigarettes [were] banned in Qatar according to a ministry order in 2014. We also have a GCC agreement on this matter,” the official said.

“We have instructed all supermarkets, pharmacies and other outlets not to sell [them]. We have also communicated with the customs department at the airport, seaport and at the borders not to allow e-cigarettes into Qatar.”

She said: “People can't bring it to the country or order it from other countries. Others can't send it to the country either. The customs have been instructed to seize such products.

“We are doing a GCC study to find out the impact of these cigarettes. Anyone who is in possession of e-cigarettes may be charged with appropriate action.” [2]

The GCC is a regional political and economic union which includes all Arab states in the Persian Gulf, except Iraq.

Heated Tobacco Products (HTP)

HTPs are treated in Qatar in the same way as e-cigarettes.

Snus and other smokeless tobacco

Snus and other smokeless tobaccos are allowed and sold, but are subject to the same restrictions as smoking tobacco. This means that their use in certain places is prohibited. There are also restrictions on availability and advertising.

Tobacco-free nicotine pouches

Tobacco-free nicotine pouches are both allowed and marketed, and the GSTHR is not aware of any specific restrictions on their use. But again, for safety reasons, nicotine consumers would be advised to buy pouches locally, or to take only the bare minimum with them for the duration of their trip.

Chewing tobacco

Importing, circulating, displaying, selling, distributing, or manufacturing chewing tobacco, in any form and under any name, is prohibited. ‘Sweika’ is a form of chewing tobacco that, while it may be present in Qatar, is prohibited by law.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

NRT products, such as nicotine patches, gums or inhalers, can be purchased in Qatar with a prescription and only from pharmacies. These products may be considered pharmacological agents, in which case the rules on medicines may apply to them. In order to avoid confiscation, arrest and even imprisonment, travellers who use NRT products should carry an official medical prescription and a letter from your GP or hospital, detailing the drug and the prescribed quantity and dose.

Smoking prevalence in Qatar

Smoking is legal in Qatar, although subject to some restrictions. The overall smoking prevalence in Qatar has gone down since 2000. 13.1% of the adult population in Qatar are current smokers, down from 17% in 2000. This means there are now approximately 315,080 smokers in the country. 25.5% of men smoke and for women the figure is 0.6%.

The most recent data show there were 286 annual deaths attributable to tobacco smoking (32 women and 254 men). The annual percentage of all deaths attributable to tobacco smoking was 8.87% (women: 3.5%; and men: 9.5%).

General tobacco restrictions

The sale of cigarettes and all types of tobacco and its derivatives to any person under the age of 18 is prohibited. Ignorance of the law is not considered an excuse and the seller must take all necessary precautions to ascertain the age of the buyer.

Smoking is prohibited in closed public places such as:

  • Schools, education and training centres, universities, hospitals, health centres, and other educational institutions and health facilities.
  • Ministries, other government agencies, public organisations and institutions, sports clubs, premises of associations and public stores, hotels, elevators, cinemas, and theatres.
  • Industrial facilities and shopping malls.
  • Restaurants and other establishments that sell food or drink to the public.

Penalties

A penalty of not less than QR 1,000 (~275 US$), not exceeding QR 3,000 (~825 US$) shall be given to anyone who smokes cigarettes or tobacco or its derivatives or permits smoking, in closed public places where smoking is prohibited.

A penalty not exceeding QR 3,000 (~825 US$) shall be given anyone who smokes cigarettes while driving a vehicle in the presence of any person under the age of 18.


[1] GSTHR. (2022). Smoking, vaping, HTP, NRT and snus in Qatar. Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction. https://gsthr.org/countries/profile/qat/.

[2] Ban on e-cigarette sales. (2016, February 24). Gulf-Times. https://www.gulf-times.com/story/481219/Ban-on-e-cigarette-sales.