Jordan - restaurant owners want smoking ban postponed..

May 5, 2009 - The Ministry of Health issued a circular banning smoking in shopping malls starting March 1,2009 while restaurants were given until June 2009 to abide by the law so they have enough time to study the implementation mechanisms.

The Jordan Restaurants Association (JRA) has called for postponing the implementation of the Public Health Law, which bans smoking in public places, until the end of the year, a JRA official said on Sunday, May 3rd. JRA Deputy President Essam Fakhreldin: “We cannot implement the law that soon. We need to move step by step to be able to ban smoking in restaurants, and I think it needs years, not months, to enforce the ban.” He noted that the sector has already been affected by the global financial crisis and the implementation of the law will add to its financial burdens.

“We still have not reached a settlement with caf├ęs that serve argileh (also known as nargile, hubble-bubble, water pipe, hooka, hookah, shisha, goza, meassel, water pipe, sheesha),” Fakhreldin said, adding that the association will propose designating a non-smoking area in restaurants and hotels.

Meanwhile, Hiba Ayyoub, head of the Tobacco Control Department, said no fines have been issued to violators since March, when the ban came into effect in malls. “The idea behind enforcing the law is not to collect money from people, but to change behavior and protect non-smokers,” she told The Jordan Times, adding, however, that “we will soon start issuing fines for those violating the law. We announced the endorsement of the law last year and the enforcement started in March… I think everyone knows about it now and it is time to implement it.”

Ayyoub noted that the Health Ministry will soon sign an agreement with the environment police to help monitor adherence to the law. As for restaurants, she said they “have to implement the law, but we still work with them on a mechanism to enforce it”. The Health Ministry will also meet with the Lower House next month to discuss implementing the smoking ban in Parliament. Ayyoub pointed out that although the House is the legislative authority, the Public Health Law has not been implemented there yet.

The only public institution other than the Health Ministry that implemented the law is the Ministry of Public Works and Housing. “It announced that its buildings are non-smoking and designated smoking areas in accordance with the required standards,” Ayyoub said, adding that they will use the ministry as a model to be followed in other public places.

Related news brief: Jordan - law to ban smoking in public places - ENFORCEMENT...

Restaurants demand postponement of smoking ban
by Khetam Malkawi, The Jordan Times, 5/4/2009.