Jordan - gradual implementation of smoking ban - will it work??

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May 13, 2010 - The Cabinet will discuss today, May 13th means of implementing a ban on smoking in public and the places to be included under the decision, a top government official told The Jordan Times on Monday, May 10th.

Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and Government Spokesperson Nabil Sharif said the Cabinet will also define the stages through which the ban will be implemented in those places where implementation will be gradual.

The Cabinet on Sunday, May 9th decided to ban smoking in ministries and government institutions as well as public places as of May 25, in accordance to the Public Health Law that prohibits smoking in public places.

The Ministry of Health started implementing the Public Health Law prohibiting smoking in public places gradually from the beginning of last year, banning smoking in public institutions in January 2009, but the law was not enforced.

According to the law, public places include hospitals, healthcare centres, schools, cinemas, theatres, libraries, museums, public and non-governmental buildings, public transport vehicles, airports, closed playgrounds, lecture halls and any other location to be determined by the health minister.

The law also stipulates that any person caught smoking in a public place is subject to between one week and one month imprisonment or a JD15 (21.14 USD)-JD25 (35.24 USD) fine. The same penalties apply to those who sell cigarettes to underage youths.

The law was enforced in the Kingdom’s shopping malls and Queen Alia International Airport in March 2009, and in fast food restaurants in June of the same year. Previous news brief: The Ministry of Health issued a circular banning smoking in shopping malls starting March 1,2009 while restaurants were given until June 2009. (Jordan - fast-food restaurants smoke free as of June 1, 2009..)

However, phase two of the implementation plan, under which smoking was prohibited in classified restaurants as of January 1, 2010, has not yet been implemented.

The Jordan Restaurants Association (JRA) requested a postponement of the ban to conduct a study on the feasibility of implementing the law and people’s acceptance of it. According to the results of the study, which was finalised in February, a majority of those surveyed, including non-smokers, said they were against the ban.

In the survey, 50 per cent of non-smoking restaurant customers and 33 per cent of non-smokers who patronise coffee shops said they opposed the law. The study also indicated that among non-smokers, 56 per cent of coffee shop customers and 66 per cent of restaurant clientele suggested allocating special areas for smokers rather than a complete ban.

Bassam Hijjawi, director of the Ministry of Health’s primary health directorate, told The Jordan Times that the ministry will hold a meeting this week with JRA representatives to discuss the plan that the association submitted earlier this year.

However, JRA President Zeid Goussous asserted that the ban on smoking in restaurants can only be implemented gradually. “Immediate prohibition will not work. It should be implemented over three to five years,” Goussous said yesterday, adding that there should be a campaign educating people about the law before it is implemented.

Reference: Cabinet to work out mechanism to implement smoking ban, The Jordan Times, 5/13/2010.