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Reaching No Agreement on Smoking Ban Date

Still have no agreement yet been reached between the Ministry of Health and the Jordan Restaurants Association (JRA) on a date to implement the ban in the Kingdom’s restaurants, a JRA official said Saturday.

JRA President Zeid Goussous told The Jordan Times that it is difficult to implement the Public Health Law, which bans smoking in public places such as restaurants, before working on society’s acceptance of the law.

“We are not against implementing such a law, but our condition… is to have an action plan developed by the ministry to enact the law and penalize violators,” Goussous said, pointing out that the law is not enforced in some institutions that are responsible for upholding it.

“The law is not implemented in Parliament, courts and other governmental buildings,” he noted.

“Banning smoking is a matter of educating people… It’s cultural… If it is implemented immediately, it will definitely fail,” he added.

According to Goussous, the ministry proposed that restaurants should start implementing the law as of April 1, but the JRA requested a postponement until May 1.

“Most of the proposals made by the ministry are invalid. They proposed that cafés specialized in serving argileh do not serve any kind of food, and that other restaurants serve food only and stop serving argileh if they currently do,” Goussous explained, adding that restricting restaurants to one service will harm business and cause some workers to lose their jobs.

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.

According to the law, public places include hospitals, 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-JD25 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, and in fast food restaurants in June.

In the survey, 50 per cent of non-smoking restaurant customers and 33 per cent of non-smokers, who patronize 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.

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