It is now illegal to sell single cigarettes throughout the country.
The sales ban, which came into force on Saturday, is the first action to come into effect under the January 2019 regulation on packet design and labelling of tobacco products. The remaining rules, including graphic warnings on packaging of tobacco products, will come into effect from August.
On 1 November, it will be illegal to sell tobacco products without graphic health warnings on packaging, completing the transition to the new rules, designed to discourage consumption of tobacco products.
Repeat offenders will be fined an additional US$322, US$645 and US$1,290 for second, third and fourth offences respectively.
The ban on the sale of loose cigarettes and the law requiring graphic images on tabacco products were drawn up two years ago, but their introduction was delayed until the new government took over.
The sale of single cigarettes needed to be banned because “it is a tactic mainly used to lure children and young adolescents into smoking,” Dr Aishath Aroona, vice chair of the Tobacco Control Board, told the Maldives Independent after the regulation on packaging and labelling of tobacco products was submitted to the president’s office for approval in September 2017.
In May, Malé City Council decided to introduce a ban on smoking on the streets of the Maldives capital. It will take effect six months after the council enacts new regulations, according to the council.
The 2010 Tobacco Control Act prohibits smoking in government offices, parks, sports stadiums, public transport, childcare or educational facilities and designated non-smoking areas in restaurants. The law did not include streets and roads in its definition of a public space.