England fans face prison or fines for taking vapes into Qatar for World Cup

England fans who decide to travel to the World Cup in Qatar later this year may choose to play it safe and leave their e-cigarettes at home to avoid strong repercussions.

By the letter of the law, penalties for vaping in Qatar can include fines of up to 10,000 riyals (around £2,200) and even three month prison sentences due to regulations that came into force in 2014.

E-cigarettes have risen in popularity in the UK as both an alternative to smoking, with the process of vaping coming from the heating of a liquid that usually contains nicotine and flavourings.

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Speaking in 2016, head of the Non-Communicable Disease Department at the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Kholood al-Mutawa said: "The e-cigarette was banned in Qatar according to a ministry order in 2014.

"We have instructed all supermarkets, pharmacies and other outlets not to sell it. We have also communicated with the customs department at the airport, seaport and the land border not to allow e-cigarettes into Qatar.

"People can't bring it to the country or order it from other countries. Others can't send it to the country either. Anyone who is in possession of e-cigarettes may be charged with appropriate action."

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However, the Tobacco Control Laws website states that although the import and distribution of of vapes are banned – the use of them is less of a risk.

They write: "The law bans the import, display, sale, distribution, and manufacture of e-cigarettes.

"There is no law addressing the use of e-cigarettes in indoor public places, workplaces, and public transport; therefore, the use of e-cigarettes is allowed."

With traditional cigarettes legal, data from WHO says that of the adult population in Qatar, 12% smoke tobacco which is less than the UK rate of 15%.

The data was looked at by UK based Vape Club, with director Dan Marchant saying: "We hear of different attitudes towards vaping in places where it's been banned, but if vaping is banned in the country you're travelling to, it's best to not risk a fine, or worse.

"Football fans heading to Qatar for the World Cup need to be especially careful: the penalties there are particularly severe.

"Because the UK has such a progressive attitude towards harm reduction and recognises the huge role vaping has to play in achieving a smokefree future, we tend to forget that there are many other countries around the world who are so far behind us."

He added: "I just hope that quitters don't find themselves turning back to cigarettes in Qatar. There's a real danger of this."

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