Smoke-Free by Force

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

no-smoking-signSmokers around the world are somewhat used to having certain smoking privileges revoked for the sake of their health and the health of those around them. One of the most recent anti-smoking laws to go into effect, in the US State of New York, is a statewide ban on cigarette smoking on public beaches and parks. The fine for anyone stubbing out the law is a $50 fine. However, the NYPD will not be held responsible for enforcing the ban. According to Mayor Bloomberg, it will be up to park rangers and regular “New Yorkers” to keep smokers from lighting up on any number of New York’s 1,700 parks and 14 miles of beaches. Back in 2003, Mayor Bloomberg also banned cigarette smoking in bars and restaurants.

Just across the Atlantic Ocean the miniscule sheikhdom of Dubai, municipality of the United Arab Emirates, spearheaded a grandiose 24-hour ban this past Tuesday on the sale of cigarettes. Smokers in the oil-rich Gulf state could not buy a pack of cigarettes if their lives depended upon it as grocery stores and gas stations were emblazoned with placards announcing the daylong ban of cigarette sales. The majority of Dubai’s restaurants and cafes also supported the ban by refusing customers the “shisha” pipe, which is a water-filled pipe that releases steamed tobacco smoke into the smoker’s mouth.

The reason for the ban is to highlight the problem of smoking in the region. Smoking and second-hand smoke are known carcinogens that have been proven to cause certain forms of cancer. Smoking is rampant in Dubai with people from all ages and walks of life “lighting up”. Dubai takes great pride in its anti-smoking initiative and offers free smoking cessation courses at various centers across the municipality. According to Dubai’s Minister of Health, Dr Hanif Hassan, more than 800 smokers have kicked their cigarette habit since 2009 thanks to the cessation centers. Hassan also revealed, in a recent interview, that Dubai plans to build even more cessation centers to help Dubai residents stop smoking once and for all.

In addition, Dubai authorities are mulling over a new law that would double the price of all tobacco products right across the board. The hope is to deter cigarette smoking by making it more expensive. There is also a new initiative to raise public awareness over the harmful effects of cigarette smoking, special attention will be given to children and teens that may face peer pressure that encourages smoking.

Dubai passed a Federal Anti-Smoking Law back in 2009, however only recently have the bylaws been approved and it has yet to be enforced by the appropriate governmental departments.

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Plumes of Smoke

January 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS

“The believing we do something when we do nothing is the first illusion of tobacco.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just about anywhere you go in Kuwait, you’re met with plumes of thick and murky cigarette smoke. Grocery stores, malls, hair salons and even hospitals are a smoker’s paradise where lighting up is as easy as whipping out your lighter. Despite smokers being the minority in Kuwait, they make up for their small number by the amount of smoke they exude, giving a renewed meaning to the phrase ‘chain smoker’.

It’s not uncommon for children to come home from a day of shopping with their mother only to reek of cigarette smoke the moment they get home or a sick person having little choice to sit in a hospital waiting room that billows with cigarette smoke. The problem of public smoking is so bad in Kuwait that many people are forced to cover their mouths while moving about the course of their day. It’s unfortunate because the smoker’s unhealthy habit is willingly thrust on the reluctant non-smoking populous whose only crime is leaving their home.

What’s most shocking is that the Kuwaiti government passed a ‘no smoking’ law back in 1995, which covers all public places. Today, many government buildings have a special room that smokers can go into and enjoy their cigarette away from the public. However, most public venues do not have a specially designated room. As a result, most smokers take free smoking reign in Kuwait, ignoring the countless ‘no smoking’ signs and even public service posters educating the public about the dangers of smoking.

In a recent survey, the website GulfTalent.com discovered that Kuwait is one of the most cigarette-friendly countries in the world, with office workers even being allowed to smoke comfortably right at their desks. The survey also revealed that only 42% of companies in Kuwait have banned smoking, however despite even a corporate ban, smokers still light up in the workplace. With all of the smoking going on, during both work and leisure activities, it’s not surprising that cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Kuwait.

Kuwait is not the only Middle Eastern country that has an often ignored smoking ban. Several Middle Eastern countries have similar bans in place. One of the most prominent is Bahrain. Within only a year of the ban being put in place, an estimated 14,000 smokers were caught illegally smoking in public. Unlike Kuwait, Bahrain often dispatches teams of health inspectors to enforce the no smoking ban. The ministry determined that the primary smoking culprits in the country are male adults, with teenagers under the age of 18 commanding over 2,000 of the citations issued. In Kuwait, smokers are left to their own devices and there is no one that can stop them once that cigarette is lit.

The Middle East often conjures up romantic images of men in robes lounging on pillows while smoking the ‘hookah’, or water-steam smoking pipe, as the sweetly scented smell of tobacco floods the air. However, cigarettes are much more user-friendly than the hookah and a whole lot cheaper. And regardless of the mode of operation, smell or the price, any use of tobacco is dangerous not only for the smoker but also those around him.

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