21 April, 2010

Congratulations to Syria for banning smoking in public!

Syria becomes the first Arab state: not in sending a man into outer space, not in building the largest shopping mall or the tallest building or the most man-made islands; Syria becomes the first country to ban smoking - targeting most public places such as restaurants, cafes, schools, universities, hospitals, parks, movie theaters, museums and public transport.
The decree also outlaws smoking in educational institutions, health centres, sports halls, cinemas and theatres and on public transport.

Workers must not smoke during meetings and businesses need to provide well-ventilated areas for smokers.

The restrictions include the nargile, or hubble-bubble pipe, which is popular among locals and tourists. The BBC
The Middle East's favorite pastime — smoking water pipes — is also prohibited in public under the new law except in well-ventilated and designated areas. Also outlawed are tobacco advertising and the sale and import of sweets and toys modeled after tobacco products.

Offenders will face fines ranging between $45 and $870 and a possible three to 12 months in jail. The Associated Press
If the ban can be properly enforced and the Syrian public can follow the 'no-smoking' areas rules; Syria will have achieved what few think is possible in an Arab country. Arabs like smoking and many are heavily addicted to that very dangerous, health hazard and silent killer - nicotine; in Syria and its neighboring countries - smoking the sheesha is a part of these countries' culture. It will be very hard to implement the ban. I very much hope the ban works and is long lasting. The benefits for all Syrians, including the 'passive smokers' - especially children and women, will, in the long run - be enormous. Syrians will be much better off health-wise. And Syrians will save much needed resources; and funds in medical and health bills.