Cigarettes and smoking in UAE

Page update - Sep 16, 2022

Compared to other resort countries, smoking is tolerated in the UAE. Cigarettes are affordable in price, smoking rules are quite soft, and the limits for importing tobacco products are among the highest in the world. Let's start with the prices and customs regulations.

This page will talk about cigarettes and traditional tobacco. For more on vaping, IQOS and similar things, see our page "Vaping and IQOS in Dubai".

Prices and other information on this page were updated in September 2022. Prices and rules are changing all the time, and it is very funny to read websites and forums on the Internet, where they talk about cigarettes for 7 or 8 dirhams (AED). Those prices are long-long gone! Read only websites with updated information, such as this website.

The introduction of the excise tax and big price hike from December 1, 2019

As of December 1, 2019, the UAE switched to an excise tax system, previously it was a percentage system. UAE Cabinet Decision 55(2019). The excise tax rate is 0.4 dirhams per cigarette, that is, 8 dirhams per pack (20 pcs). As a result, the prices of cheap brand cigarettes have hiked high, while the prices of expensive brand cigarettes have risen, but not as much.

Cigarette and tobacco prices in the UAE

A pack of Marlboro in the United Arab Emirates costs 22-25 dirhams, a pack of L&M - 16-20, Pall Mall, Chesterfield - 12-16.

For the current exchange rates of Emirati dirham to US dollar, UK pound, Euro and other currencies, see our page "Money in the UAE".

There are also cheap cigarette brands unknown to Europeans and Americans which cost 11-12 dirhams. Tobacco prices are constantly rising at a small rate - about 5-10% per year, only in 2019 there was a sharp jump due to the introduction of the excise tax.

The prices in the UAE are lower than in the UK, US or western EU countries. So we don't advise you to take your own cigarettes. You can buy locally. You can buy in Duty Free stores at the airport of departure or arrival. But remember! If you buy cigarettes at a Duty Free store then you are limited in quantity by customs law. We will talk about limits in detail a little later on this page.

We have to disappoint those wishing to taste a real local Arab tobacco. It simply does not exist, since the cultivation of tobacco in the UAE is strictly forbidden by law.

The UAE tobacco companies produce tobacco products locally, but from imported raw materials. Orchid Tobacco Dubai is the most famous Arab tobacco company, its brands are called "Royal Orchid" and "Kings & Lords (K&L)".

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How much tobacco is allowed to take into the UAE?

Any tourist of age 18 and above can bring into the UAE up to 400 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 500 grams of pipe tobacco. Read our detailed review "What you can bring into the UAE".

If a traveler wants to bring more tobacco products into the UAE, he is required to declare them and pay a duty of 100% of the value at customs. Customs officers make the procedure simple and fast, no delays. However, do not forget that the value will need to be proven somehow.

Such low restrictions are surprising. For example, if you remember the rules for cigarettes in Turkey or the rules for importing cigarettes into Egypt, you can't take more than 200 cigarettes through customs. But in the UAE, you can have 400, and even more if you pay the duties.

In fact, there is nothing to be surprised. Such soft rules have clear reasons, which we will tell you a little later.

You should remember one important rule. According to the UAE laws all tobacco products imported into the country must be packed in original packaging, and the boxes must have the inscriptions warning about the dangers of smoking. If they are not, the tobacco products must be confiscated.

Does the population of the UAE smoke a lot?

The population of the Arab Emirates is about 9,890,000 people (estimated figure at 2022). Only 1 million of them are native Arabs, i.e. citizens of the country. The rest of the inhabitants are visitor workers from other countries with residence and work permits. Read more on our page "Population of the Arab Emirates".

Native Arabs mostly do not smoke. They are religious, and Islam treats smoking negatively, and smoking tobacco by women very-very negatively. The smoking problem concerns foreign workers who smoke a lot. It is the low price of tobacco that is considered by the authorities to be the reason.

The main threat to public health in the UAE is considered to be not cigarettes, but hookahs. If the number of cigarette smokers is slowly decreasing, the number of hookah lovers is constantly increasing.

The fight against smoking in the United Arab Emirates is going on, but it is rather slow. We want to remind you that the UAE is a community of seven emirates, each with its own ruler and its own laws. It took a long time for the emirs of the UAE to develop a unified legal framework against smoking.

In addition, the problem did not affect the native inhabitants of the UAE much, and only when there was a trend of young Arabs smoking hookahs and cigarettes, the authorities of the country began to seriously think about it.

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Smoking regulations in the UAE

Various restrictions for smokers began to be introduced back in 2007, but then these were local laws, each emirate has its own law. Since 2010, anti-smoking laws have been introduced in all the emirates. These laws differ from emirate to emirate only in detail, but the basic ideas are the same.

The rules for smoking and selling tobacco are now regulated by two laws: Law 15 (2009) "On Combating Tobacco Smoking" and Law 3 (2016) "On the Rights of the Child".

Smoking is banned indoors, except in rooms specially equipped for smoking. The law allows smoking in buildings on balconies. Smoking is prohibited in hotel rooms, but it is allowed on the balconies of rooms if the hotel administration allows.

It is strongly forbidden to smoke inside the car if a child under the age of 12 is inside. Tobacco is sold only to persons with age of 18 or above. Any advertising of tobacco products in the UAE is completely prohibited.

Restrictions have been imposed on the sale of tobacco products. Tobacco is not sold in stores close to mosques, educational institutions, health facilities. Vending machines selling cigarettes or tobacco are banned.

The police relate with tourists rather softly. Tourists are rarely fined, and more often just warned. But if you smoke in a mall or in a Dubai Metro station, you will be fined for sure. So, be careful. The penalty for smoking in the wrong place is high - 2,000 dirhams (AED).

For the current exchange rates of Emirati dirham to US dollar, UK pound, Euro and other currencies, see our page "Money in the UAE".

Smoking during Ramadan

During the month of Ramadan (Muslim holy month) it is forbidden to drink, eat or smoke in public places during daylight hours. This applies to all people, including tourists. The laws claims a fine of up to AED 2,000 or a month in jail for smoking in public.

During Ramadan it is not forbidden to smoke if no one is watching, but it is very difficult to find such a place in the modern UAE. Remember that on hotel premises the Ramadan fasting rules do not apply. Read more in our review "Ramadan in the UAE".


Smoking in the rooms is not allowed by law, but you can smoke on the balconies.

You can smoke freely in the street, but keep an eye out for forbidding signs. The cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi have special areas for smoking, it is better to smoke there.

Smoking is allowed on the beaches, but try not to disturb the people around you. Or why not choose a beach with less people, there are plenty of such beaches in the UAE. Read our detailed reviews "Best beaches in Dubai", "Best beaches in Abu Dhabi", "Best beaches in Sharjah".

It's interesting

- In theory, UAE laws punish tobacco related violations with a fine up to 1,000,000 dirhams or even imprisonment of up to 2 years. In practice, such harsh penalties apply only to cigarette smugglers;

- On other expenses on vacation in the UAE, except cigarettes, read our detailed review "How much money to take in the UAE";

- This page talks about cigarettes and traditional tobacco. For more on vaping, IQOS and similar things, see our page "Vaping and IQOS in Dubai".

We wish you a fun and pleasant trip to the UAE, and read our useful pages about this country (see list of the pages below).


Tips for Tourists in the UAE


What to Take for the UAE

What You Should Not Do in the UAE

To the UAE with Kids

Sharks in the UAE

Weather in the UAE by Month

Holidays in the UAE

Are Unmarried Young Women
Allowed to Enter the UAE?

All-Inclusive in the UAE

Power Sockets & Voltage in the UAE

Hotels in the UAE with Own Beach


The UAE - Info, Facts, Figures

What Language is Spoken in the UAE

Population and Citizens of the UAE

History of the UAE

Flag of the UAE

Friday and Weekend in the UAE

Ramadan in the UAE

Sheikh Zayed - Father of Nation

Sheikhs of the UAE


What to Bring from the UAE

What You Can and Not Bring In the UAE

What You Can and Not Take Out the UAE

VAT Refund in the UAE

Shopping in the UAE - Why is Cheap

Date Fruits in the UAE

Camel Milk and Dairy Products

Bakhoor and Oud


Money in the UAE - Emirati Dirham

Currency Exchange in the UAE

How Much Money to Take to the UAE

Food Prices in the UAE

Tourist Taxes in the UAE

Alcohol in the UAE

Cigarettes and Smoking in the UAE

Vape and iQos in the UAE


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