Dubai's bid to ban smoking draws fire

DUBAI - Die-hard smokers, members of the hospitality industry, restaurateurs, tourists and shoppers in the UAE are up in arms against the impending ban on smoking in public places in Dubai.

By (By a staff reporter)

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Published: Thu 24 Jun 2004, 9:55 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:03 PM

They argue that the city - known as a shopper's paradise and a leisure destination worldwide - might lose some of its visitor-friendly image due to the ban on cigarette smoking in public places like parks, shopping malls, movie theatres, pubs and restaurants.

Friedrich Albrecht, Resident Manager, Coral Deira, Coral International, believes that a majority of their clients are smokers and sometimes even chain smokers and the law once implemented will place an enormous strain on the hotel's clientele. If there is a total ban on smoking in public places, it might be a little tough on the tourists and the businessmen who come here for a great time or to mix business with leisure.

Although this trend is popular in the US, UK, Ireland and in Europe, Mr Albrecht believes that if such a law does come into effect, all shopping malls and leisure spots in the country should immediately have specific smoking zones to ensure that their clientele are not driven away.

Most shopping malls try to retain their customers for at least six hours so as to lure them into shopping some of the major bargains that are available. And the least they would want to would be to keep the smokers away. And in a style that might augur well for the smokers as well as the non-smokers BurJuman Centre, the region's popular fashion destination, has already allotted specific zones for the smokers on Level 1, Level 2 and at the Food Court on Level 3. "Smoking Area" boards have been placed in the designated zones while special display stands set up inside the mall and a large banner outside to inform visitors about the ill-effects of smoking.

The special community programme launched inside the mall will help passive smokers to keep away from inhaling the toxic fumes while at the same time offer smokers an opportunity to enjoy smoking within specially designated areas.

At the Deira City Centre where specific smoking zones are yet to be created, a source at the Carrefour hypermarket said that a complete ban on smoking in public areas would be difficult on the smokers and no doubt keep a large percentage of shoppers away.

At the Dubai Press Club, a popular destination for most of the Arab journalists, smoking is a common feature. Mai Suleiman, Media Relations Coordinator at the Club said that if journalists are not allowed to smoke at all inside the club, it might discourage many from coming and joining in the myriad activities that the club offers.

"There is a specific smoking area in the club near the playstations, the television screens and the billiards tables where journalists like to smoke. Smoking is more like a social thing here," she explained, admitting that the ban on smoking in public areas might adversely affect journalists.

Internet cafe owner, Jayakar Chandrashekhar, said that if smoking is banned in public places then it would mean a great loss of business. "Most of my clients are Arabs and Egyptians who like to smoke while they chat or write e-mails. If I prevent them from smoking within the cafe, they will not come again. We are not interested in the health-related aspects, it is more important that we have more customers and do good business and if we don't allow people to smoke, it will be bad for business," he said.

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