Dubai: How common is it to find pregnant women smoking in shisha cafes?
According to Dubai Municipality, it was an issue worth tackling.
A senior official at the municipality told Gulf News on Monday that it has recently launched a new public-service health campaign regarding the usage of tobacco; prohibiting pregnant women to enter shisha cafes, regardless of whether they intend to smoke or not.
Marwan Al Mohammed, Director of the Public Health and Safety Department at Dubai Municipality, explained that the new rules mean that women who are expecting are now restricted to sitting in smoke-free areas.
"This is not up for negotiation," he said.
“The rules are not limited to pregnant women, but also extends to children and toddlers. The reason behind launching the campaign was to make it absolutely clear who are, and who are not, allowed in the premises,” said Al Mohammad.
The sale of tobacco is prohibited to people under the age of 20.
While the age restriction on shisha cafes is not new, Al Mohammad said that management of such shisha shops have in the past, raised complaints about restricting access to their customers.
The new posters that have sprouted up on the door’s entrances of shisha cafes across Dubai carry the slogan, “Smoking is your choice! Not mine,” – in reference to the unborn child – and clearly states the regulations, which were made to address the choices of parents.
“Managers have previously complained that for the public’s safety and well-being, they have unsuccessfully tried to deny access to pregnant women. But since there were no official rules regarding this matter, the women were able to enter, since it was their right as a customer to enter the premises,” he said.
Closure of shisha cafes
In addition to the authority’s stringent measures on tobacco control, Al Mohammad confirmed that 15 shisha cafes were closed down last weekend for not adhering to the regulations contained in the Federal Law No. 15 for 2009, and its Executive Regulation No. 24 for 2014 regarding tobacco control.
There are currently 70 registered shisha shops across the emirate.
“There were a number of violations recorded, which included not having designated smoking zones, and not adhering to our high standard of hygiene,” he said.