Abu Dhabi residents call for ban on public smoking to be implemented

Some establishments in Abu Dhabi still allow smoking in public areas

Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
Abu Dhabi faces a situation where many malls and cafes stillallow people to light up within their premises.
20 Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The imminent introduction of graphic warnings on cigarette packs in the UAE has once again incited many residents to call for a ban on smoking in indoor venues in the capital.

Although certain facilities in Abu Dhabi do not entertain smoking at present, an emirate-wide decision has not been issued as yet, and many malls and cafes still allow people to light up within their premises, Gulf News has found.

“This is not right. Smokers have an overall uncaring behaviour to the well-being of others around them, and something needs to be done to protect those who choose to lead healthy lifestyles and avoid smoking,” Farida Siddiqi, a 62-year-old social worker from Canada, told Gulf News.

At a café nearby her home, Siddiqi has repeatedly tried to appeal to the manager to put a stop to indoor smoking. “When I approached the manager, however, he told me they had a license to allow smoking within their premises,” she said.

Another resident, Suad Baddar, is also worried because exposure to second-hand smoke had previously caused her children to develop allergies.

“Many places that we visit, like malls and cafes, allow smokers. Not only do they affect the health of my children but the smoke clings to our clothes and continues to bother us even after we have left,” Baddar said.

Dr Wedad Al Maidour, head of the national tobacco control programme at the Ministry of Health, told Gulf News: “The ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces across the UAE has been part of federal law since 2009. However, by-laws stipulating how the ban will be implemented have not yet been approved, and this is why the practice still continues today.”

In June 2011, ministry officials submitted a draft of the by-laws to the UAE Cabinet. Now, a written agreement from various stakeholders that will implement the ban is pending, Dr Al Maidour said.

“As soon as the by-laws come into place, establishments in Abu Dhabi will prohibit smoking in enclosed public spaces. Already, many shisha cafes have been moved from the heart of the city to the suburbs,” she added.

But enterprises that offer shisha continue to be set up in downtown Abu Dhabi. One concerned resident who contacted Gulf News said a shisha café had opened in his building on Khalifa Street as recently as June.

Smoking in enclosed public areas has been banned in Dubai since 2007, and in Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah since 2008. Ajman, too, has had a ban in place since 2010.

Certain establishments in the capital have nevertheless prohibited smoking,

V. Nandakumar, head of corporate communications at the Lulu Group, confirmed that smoking had been banned at the popular Al Wahda Mall since July.

“This is the first step we have taken in our fight against tobacco use. Very soon we hope to implement similar bans across the other malls we manage,” Nandakumar said.

Cafes at Al Wahda Mall have however reported a drop in sales since the ban. A waitress at one of the cafes said they had seen a 50 per cent fall in the number of people who frequented the coffee shop.

When approached, some smokers said they agreed with a ban on smoking in enclosed public areas.

“I am a smoker, but I know how harmful and irritating it can be to others, so I do support such a decision,” said Ali Dakkak, 28, a public relations executive in Abu Dhabi.

Others, however, believe a prohibition on smoking in cafes is unnecessary.

“Some cafes and restaurants that I used to frequent have banned smoking, and I tend to avoid going there now. It is a nuisance for me as a smoker to have to stand outside in the heat if I want to smoke. Whenever we plan a day out these days, I always call beforehand to check if there are any indoor smoking areas,” said F.F., 27, an Arab resident.


-With additional inputs from Tamara Suleiman, intern at Gulf News


  • Nawaz

    Aug 26, 2012 4:57

    I being a smoker its a gud move to ban smoking in public areas,, Bt a smoker shud also be considered,, there shud be designated smoking areas in Malls, cafes, etc,,, incresing the price of tobacco is not logical,,, whn I came to Uae the price of cigret i smoke was 6 dhm nw its 8 dhm,, its doesnt affect a smoker,,, If I need to smoke i will buywhatever the price will be!!!

  • Michael

    Aug 26, 2012 4:34

    everybody say ban smoking... if you really want everybody to stopsmoking. ban the cigarettes from coming to u.a.e. close all thecigarette factory. take all the cigarettes from stores and malls. forsure no one will ever smoke in u.a.e. increasing the price is NOT the solution.

  • dima

    Aug 26, 2012 4:15

    just let people do what they want to do, if you dont like being aroundsmokers then sit in the non-smokers area. wheres the harm in that? allresturants and public places have 2 sections for smokers andnon-smokers.

  • Rowena

    Aug 26, 2012 3:56

    I hope the ban would also be strictly applied for offices as well. Iam--in a daily basis---inhaling cigarette smoke in our office. I ammost of the times attending meetings which are attended by males who areall smoking and this is really dangerous to my health, more than totheirs as second hand smoke is acutally worse.

  • Bestman

    Aug 26, 2012 3:47

    Its great to know that government has brought a bold and very useful lawbut need to be implemented with strict order as"No Cigar-NoSmokers"-Zero tolerance.Will this be implemented in Other parts ofemirates also.

  • Robin

    Aug 26, 2012 2:51

    Its really sad that some people are senseless. Eg: Why cant People who smokes inside the lift, think how difficult it will be for next person / family along with a child/infant suffocates?.. Smokers, please be aware about the harm you do for your fellow human beings. Its very easy to pollute air and surroundings.. But your sensible thinking to quit /control smoking, may save several lives and environment..

  • Mogamat

    Aug 26, 2012 1:51

    Smoking should be banned in all public places,in Abu Dhabi mall arestuarant is still allowing its patrons to smoke,this is very disturbngeven to passers by as the smoke does not stay inside the restuarant

  • jeff

    Aug 26, 2012 1:42

    Its very sad to say that smoking became a social image amongyoungsters. I have found more youngsters being spoiled the real nature of human being. As in the sociological view, a society should be free from social evils like this. As we the healthy individual can contribute to the well being of the healthy society as a whole. I would like to saythat rather than putting a ban on public smoking, the government of UAE can completely stop smoking in UAE if they are really focusing the well being of the public. Just everyone should think a nation without smoking. soon it must happen, and expecting positively.

  • Shabbir

    Aug 26, 2012 1:09

    The initiative is good and rule should be implemented through out the UAE. I have seen people smoking in the lift as well and this rule will take care of such indecent incidents.

  • Be H

    Aug 26, 2012 12:56

    The banning of cigarette smoking is good, for NON SMOKER, I, myself is non smoker and I do respect the rights of the people who does. On the other hand, those people who go near the smoking area, and inhale this, as specialist said, they themselves become 2nd hand smoker and it is harmful to their health even tho they have not smoke a single stick ofcigarette in their life. Otherwise, the goverment have to enclose the smoking area, and not in public place ( e.g 3rd floor- in the Abu Dhabi Mall) where caffee is open to the public, and as a passerby, I can smell the smoke, which is qiuet irritated and we cant say a word coz each one of us have the choices.

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I being a smoker its a gud move to ban smoking in public areas,, Bt a smoker shud also be considered,, there shud be designated smoking areas in Malls, cafes, etc,,, incresing the price of tobacco is not logical,,, whn I came to Uae the price of cigret i smoke was 6 dhm nw its 8 dhm,, its doesnt affect a smoker,,, If I need to smoke i will buywhatever the price will be!!!


26 August 2012 17:39jump to comments