Tuesday, October 13, 2009

No buts! Syria bans smoking in public

No buts! Syria bans smoking in publicPresident Bashar al-Assad has issued a decree banning smoking in a wide range of public places such as cafes and restaurants, was reported on 12, October. The decree "forbids smoking and the sale of tobacco in any form in cafes, restaurants and nightclubs as well as in schools, universities, hospitals, cinemas, theatres and museums." The decree also outlaws smoking in educational institutions, health centres, sports halls, and on public transport.

The Syrian government has passed several laws restricting smoking in the last two decades. A decree in 1996 banned tobacco advertising, while a 2006 law outlawed smoking on public places, introducing fines for offenders. Now offenders will be fined 2,000 Syrian pounds — about $45. Also recently was issued a law that banned the sale of tobacco to those under the age of 18.

Health Minister Rida Saeed said authorities were working on campaigns that explain to the public "the health hazards of smoking and the environmental, economic and social vices of smoking."

The World Health Organization is unable to provide details on tobacco consumption in Syria, but levels of smoking in public is high across the Arab world, especially among men. Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates — and most recently Iraq — have imposed similar restrictions on smoking, but the bans vary in scope and enforcement.