Wednesday, 26 May 2010

JD360 million in smoke

I know, I know! some of you are waiting for my Petra pictures and they will come very soon - but since we have come home we have all been in bed with a stomach flu, I think that we are finally seeing the other end of the tunnel now, I just need to get Bibs to eat some food again. Right now she is interested only in Cheerios, then more Cheerios and the occasional piece of bread. Gosh, am I happy for still breastfeeding, at least I know she gets some good things.

Well back to my tittle. Apparently Jordanians spend JD360 millions in tobacco products every year - which is quite a bit considering that there are under 7 million Jordanians and that cigarettes cost next to nothing (sorry don't know how much, but I can't imagine that they are that expensive, specially compared to Europe!) This brings me to talk about the smoking ban. Yes, a smoking ban. Well it actually exists and has been gradually implemented since the beginning of last year, now the government wants to enforce it. This reminds me of France. About 15 years ago (or more probably), when they did the first try, the idea was that each restaurant/cafe should have a smoking and a non-smoking designated area. Well this is what happened in my village in south of France: during the winter the non smoking section would be outside on the terrace in the cold and that section would move inside during the hot summer months! Many things have of course changed nowadays and in Europe smoking is not "in" anymore. But it is in the Middle East and also in Jordan where, I have the impression, the greatest part of the population smokes (at least the men).

So, the ban is theoretically in place in malls, at the airport or in fast food restaurants. I don't know about the airport, but in the shopping malls is it very common to see people smoke, right underneath the now-smoking sign; like in France 15 years ago, it is the whole mentality that need to be changed.

"According to the law, public places include hospitals, healthcare centers, 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". (Jordan Times, May 24th). I wonder if that includes taxis?

As of yesterday, health visitors should make unannounced visits to ministries and other public places in order to ensure that the ban is enforced. The law says that anybody caught smoking in a public place could end up in prison for up to a month and be finned from JD15 to JD25 - that seems a bit stiff to me (I mean the prison), but maybe that's what people need in order to wait for 5 minutes to be outside to light up that fag. And that's the thing I don't like about the smoking bans: it is that you have to walk through a huge cloud of smoke to enter a pub, cafe or other restaurant because people stand outside to have their nicotine fix. I am an ex-smoker, and already when I was smoking it was annoying me! 

The good thing about all this, is that the Ministry of Health also offers consultations and nicotine substitutes free of charge for those who want to quit smoking.  

But hey let's see maybe we will see a big change in the habits, but I doubt it will happen overnight and that tomorrow when I go to Mecca Mall I won't see people smoking everywhere, underneath the non smoking sign...


Haitham Seelawi said...

Worst of all is when you are trapped with a tax driver who smokes!

But you know what, smoking in Jordan is taken as a sign of male machismo and as a slutty behavior of a female! Such a mentality is deeply rooted in our society, and it will take substantial efforts to change it!

Babs said...

It's true that the smoking taxi is not fun ;)

and you see am not that surprised about what you tell me...

Anonymous said...

And tell me, will that also ban the argeleh/hookah, because I sure hope so. It has gotten so that you can't sit in a restaurant on a Thursday night without the entire place being blue with smoke from those things. I'd love to see it change quickly.

Babs said...

it's annoying when you sit and eat and somebody right next to you puffs away on a fag or an argeleh... agreed. it was really stranged when we arrived to see everybody smoke everywhere... one day it will change, but when?

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