Dubai backtracks on public smoking ban

DUBAI Municipality has relaxed a ban on smoking in public places, despite having promised to enforce the law. Last year the Municipality ran a huge campaign ahead of the proposed ban, but no such move has materialised.

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By  Rhys Jones Published  June 19, 2005

DUBAI Municipality has relaxed a ban on smoking in public places, despite having promised to enforce the law. Last year the Municipality ran a huge campaign ahead of the proposed ban, but no such move has materialised. The ban on smoking in malls and public places was due to be implemented last September. However, Dubai Municipality has since said it has nothing to do with the banning of smoking in shopping malls and other public areas, despite the posters in malls which said the ban would be implemented “by law”. “The civic body has not imposed any ban on smoking in malls,” said Salem Bin Mesmar, director of the emirate’s public health department last week. “The malls have all the freedom to regulate the smoking activities according to the needs and convenience of the customers of the malls,” he added. The lack of action is strange considering the fact that Dubai Municipality printed thousands of official leaflets stating the ban would be enforced. The pamphlet said: “According to Article No. 51 of the Local Order 11/2003, Dubai Municipality has decided to ban smoking in all Leisure & Entertainment places, Shopping Centres and Resturants”. The Municipality’s previously aggressive anti-smoking stance led to the tentative introduction of the ban on October 15. However, Dubai Municipality claims that the powers that be in Dubai later ordered Bin Mesmar to make sure the smoking ban was not fully enforced. “We are waiting for the green light from higher authorities to enforce the law properly. It will start soon, but I don’t know when,” Zohoor Al Sabbagh, head of clinic and medical services section, Dubai Municipality told Arabian Business. “Personally, I would love to implement this law tomorrow, but [the health department has] been asked to stop the issue from powers above us,” she added. Nevertheless, Dubai’s shopping malls could reintroduce the smoking ban this year. Eisa Adam Ibrahim, president of the Dubai Shopping Malls Group and general manager of the Burjuman Centre, said the group is working with Dubai Municipality to bring back the ban. “We need to make shopping a pleasant experience for everyone including women and children,” he said. Meanwhile, the port city of Aqaba in Jordan was last week officially launched as The Youth Smoking Prevention City by Nader El Dahabi, chief commissioner of The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA). The programme, which is a joint venture between ASEZA and British American Tobacco is set to run for two years and will include advertising awareness and educational campaigns as well as a retail access prevention scheme.

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