Dubai: People under 20 will not be allowed to frequent shisha cafes, part of the emirate's third phase of anti-smoking regulations, which rolls out on November 18.
This marks the third phase of Dubai's new smoking regulations, following government offices becoming smoke-free on May 30 and shopping malls on September 16.
Salem Mesmar, director of public health at Dubai Municipality, told Gulf News that the age limit was to curb teenage smoking and protect the health of the public.
"Nobody under 20 can be served in shisha places. No children will be allowed at shisha cafes," he said.
Currently, there are no prohibitions over the age of patrons in shisha cafes.
Although some shisha cafes do not allow teen-agers under 18 to buy shisha - asking them for proof of age before providing them with the popular Middle Eastern pastime -they do not ask if anyone in their group was underage.
There are no prohibitions against shisha-smoking for adults accompanied by children, either. The age requirement likely becomes effective after a year, as shisha cafes have other requirements to fulfil. Some of the new regulations include noise levels, operating hours and outdoor decorations.
Mesmar said the municipality was giving shisha cafes one year from Sunday to make the necessary adjustments "because they cannot change overnight".
"Shisha cafes are different [from restaurants and cafes]. They are smoking places," he said.
"Shisha cafes will have new rules. They cannot continue with what they are doing. For example, they cannot stay open till early in the morning. Maybe they can only remain open up to 1 am," he said.
Other than shisha cafes, restaurants and cafes also come under the new anti-smoking regulations, albeit with different requirements. They have to become smoke-free from Sunday, unless they have fulfilled specific requirements set by Dubai Municipality.
"Restaurants and cafes have to stop smoking from November 18. If they want to make a smoking section, they can, but they have to seek approval from our clinics section, get the new rules and adjust accordingly, like ventilation, size and area," Mesmar said.
He also said the municipality would publish a manual to inform the public of the anti-smoking regulations by the end of the month.
"If we don't regulate now, [regulating] in the future will become more complicated," he said.
"We're doing it for the best of Dubai and the image of Dubai."
Have your say
Do you think it is a much-needed decision? How do you think this is going to impact the shisha culture? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the comments form below.
I wish the shisha smoking will stay forever, like the ban of cigarette smoking in Dubai.
Posted: November 16, 2007, 14:18
The UAE should ban selling shisha to teenagers. I see a lot of these teenagers smoking in public. This gives a bad impression to small kids.
Posted: November 16, 2007, 13:04
This is somewhat reasonable compared to banning them altogether since shishas are part of the local culture. If they should ban shisha so people can give up this "terrible habit", then cigarettes should not be sold anywhere for the same reason.
Posted: November 16, 2007, 11:51
Some people feel that smoking a shisha is safer than other methods of tobacco smoking since they believe that the water filters out the harmful compounds before the smoke is inhaled. But, compared to cigarettes, little research exists on the health risks of shisha smoking.
Posted: November 16, 2007, 11:44
I don?t get it. Are we not living in the UAE? Why is there no collective anti-smoking policy in the country? Malls in Sharjah still allow patrons to smoke and the smell is quite a turnoff.
Posted: November 16, 2007, 11:25
The step taken is complimentary but what is the use if it is still around? Teenagers will now buy it and smoke at their places fearlessly. Shisha should be banned totally in cafes and in the market.
Posted: November 16, 2007, 08:53
Prohibiting smoking in restaurants is a positive step. Shisha smoke does have negative effects on the health of children, infants and people in general. I am a shisha smoker and I like to take shisha after eating, but if you ask me, I would prefer that restaurants not offer shisha at all.
Posted: November 16, 2007, 01:15
Wow, teenagers are not allowed. That's a good move. I have noticed a lot of teenagers getting spoiled and addicted to all these bad influences. Living in the modern world the teens are the ones who get spoiled and go out of control. I am so happy that the authorities have taken this move.
Posted: November 15, 2007, 19:06
Smoking tobacco in any form is harmful to the smokers as well as the people around them, therefore it should be banned in all public places. Just because the shisha is a traditional way of smoking does not make it less harmful.
Posted: November 15, 2007, 18:08
I would like to ask the municipality "what difference did they make?". The main reason to ban smoking is to make it more and more difficult for people to keep up this terrible habit or to get used to it in the first place.
Posted: November 15, 2007, 14:50