Tobacco legislation in the Maldives – a brief history!

Here I present translations of the very first Laws on tobacco control in the Maldives. There were three Laws passed during the 40s and 50s. The first Bill was passed in 1942.

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Bill no: 1/61

Date: 12 May 1942

Bill on Bidi, Cigars, Cigarettes and other forms of tobacco

  1. Bidi, Cigars, Cigarettes and other forms of tobacco should not be imported into the Maldives at present
  2. Bidi, Cigars, Cigarettes and other forms of tobacco should not be smoked in public (on the streets)

The above Laws passed by the Citizen’s majlis on the 2nd day of Rabeeul Awwal 1361, is herewith ratified and we give permission to the Home Ministry to put this Law in effect.

Signed

Hassan Noordeen, Sultan of the Maldives

Mohamed Fareed Didi, Prime Minister of Maldives

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Gazetted Tobacco Control Law of 1942

Note that in addition to tobacco, the above Law restricted the imports of sports materials and products as well as jewelry and other ornaments

A second Law was passed 6 June 1948 as written below

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Bill no: 2/67

Tobacco Control Bill

  1. No student or any Maldivian below the age of seventeen years should smoke or consume tobacco in any form.
  2. Cigars, cigarettes, bidi or tobacco in any other form should not be smoked in the streets of Male’.
  3. Import of tobacco to the Maldives in a year will be permitted according to the following.
    1. Chewing tobacco – A third more than the average of the past three years (i.e. 1 1/3 of the average).
    2. Gudaaku tobacco – A third less than the average of the past three years (i.e. 2/3 of the average).
    3. Cigarettes, cigars, bidi – A quarter less than the average of the past three years (i.e. ¾ of the average).
    4. The price of tobacco should be controlled.
    5. Import license for tobacco will be given to people who imported food in the past three years, according to the average quantity of food they imported. But, while giving this permission, special attention will be paid to the quantity of rice imported.
    6. It is a Policy of the Government of the Maldives to protect the people of Maldives from tobacco use.

Tobacco Control Bill passed by the Citizen’s Majlis on the 21st day of Rajab 1367 is here with ratified and the Home Minister is hereby given permission to put this Bill to effect

28 Rajab 1367

Signed

Mohamed Fareed

Abdulla Fahumee Didi

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In the above Bill the date is given in Hijri calendar and corresponds to 6 June 1948.

It is interesting to note that in this Bill the import quotas are based on the previous imports for three years. However, in the first Bill, tobacco importation was completely banned. There is no evidence of alternative direction and hence this is not clear as to why the imports are used as a guide for quota.

Also interesting to note is that this Bill specifically states that it is the Policy of the Government to “protect” the people of Maldives form tobacco use. It is not clear what, and ironically the health impacts of tobacco were first determined in the 1960s. Perhaps this is to protect from the financial burden.

The last of the series of these Bills were passed on 23 September 1951.

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Bill no: 2/70

Law on prohibiting the import of tobacco and tobacco products in to the Maldives

  1. Due to the current situation in the Maldives, it is prohibited to import tobacco and tobacco products in to the Maldives.
  2. Such products stocked by businesspersons and such products, for which an order has been placed before today, will be bought by the “Qawmee Kunfuni” at control rate, if the placement of order can be proved by Customs, and sold at a price fixed by the Ministry of Trade.

The above Bill No. 2/70 passed by the Citizen’s Majlis on the 19th day of Zul Hijjaa 1370, is herewith ratified, and the Prime Minister is hereby given permission to put this Bill into effect.

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Despite the destruction tobacco causes, the lead taken by our forefathers to control tobacco by legal processes has today become the gold standard for the whole world. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is the only Convention passed to protect the public health of the Global Population.

It has taken 59 years before a new Law to be passed by the Majlis and ratified by the President. The current Law though much longer is much weaker that any of the above Laws. Those past Laws are short, sweet and to the point.

The current Law passed by the Majlis is a much-watered down version of the initial drafts. The assassination of the first President, mythically related to his strong tobacco control measures, may still be influencing the minds of current lawmakers and politicians.

To protect the majority of the smoking Maldivians from death before they reach their potential life expectancy, strong laws are needed to reduce the supply and demand for tobacco. We are way behind!

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2 Comments on "Tobacco legislation in the Maldives – a brief history!"

  1. ahmed zahid
    15/04/2014 at 18:55 Permalink

    very interesting, thanks . is it possible to get the references.

  2. ahmed.afaal@gmail.com
    27/04/2017 at 11:12 Permalink

    Of course you can refer. Apologies for the very late response. Haven’t been blogging for a while
    Cheers

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