Pregnant women, children and those under 18-years-of-age have been barred from entering shisha joints, restaurants and cafes with smoking areas in Dubai, according to new rules to limit passive smoking.
The ban is part of the effort by the Dubai Economic Development (DED) in collaboration with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) to raise awareness regarding the dangers of passive smoking.
Earlier this month, DED had displayed stickers with messages on the harmful effects of passive smoking on babies, pregnant women and teenagers at such joints. The department has also asked the outlets not to open their doors to these ‘high-risk’ groups.
An official from the health ministry said the Federal Anti-Tobacco Law prohibited families from entering such places under a by-law. She said the move was particularly important in Ramadan because families spent much time in smoke-filled Ramadan tents.
Dr Wedad Al Maidoor, Head of the National Tobacco Control Committee said that the move would also send out a strong message, especially to children. “When children accompany their parents to such places, they think it is okay to smoke. We want to change these beliefs and trends.”
According to Wam, DED held meetings with the outlets in July and said the directive would be implemented from August onwards. Outlets failing to comply will be warned initially and later fined and may face temporary shutdown as a next step. Already, a number of outlets have been fined, although the exact figures were unavailable.
“The campaign aims to protect basic human rights, including the right to take informed decisions. A child has his right to healthy living like everyone, irrespective of whether he is in his mother’s womb or out in this world,” said Walid Abdul Malik, Director, Commercial Control at the consumer Compliance and Consumer Protection Division of DED.
Inhaling tobacco smoke is reported to cause respiratory problems and infections of the ear, nose and throat in newborns. Among pregnant women, passive smoking, also known as second-hand smoking, is said to add to the risk of low birth weight and premature birth of their babies.
“Reports indicate nearly 600,000 people die of passive smoking around the world every year. A study conducted by the DHA in 2010 showed 46 people sought medical help in Dubai for complications related to passive smoking,” said Dr Ramadan Ibrahim Mohammed, Director of Health Regulation at the DHA.
The owner of a shisha café in Deira, on the condition of anonymity, said, “It is now our responsibility to ensure that children do not enter the café.”
Any violation of the new directive can be reported by calling Ahlan Dubai on 600 545555.