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Friday, October 30, 2020

Report: Qatar revisiting the idea of a new, stricter anti-smoking law

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Shisha smoking

Qatar may finally adopt a stricter anti-smoking law after years of discussion about cracking down on tobacco usage in the country.

The Qatar Tribune reports a senior Hamad Medical Corp. official as saying the new law is expected to meet Advisory (Shura) Council approval “soon.”

The legislation apparently contains much steeper fines than the previous law, according to Dr. Ahmed al Mulla, director of HMC’s anti-smoking clinic.

Penalties include:

  • Raising fines for shops found selling cigarettes to kids QR5,000 (instead of the current QR500 penalty);
  • Punishing shops who violate other tenets of the law with fines of up to QR100,000, instead of QR5,000); and
  • Shutting down shops who repeatedly flout the law.

Previously, other new rules under consideration included a ban on shisha outlets in residential areas and near schools. Cigarette vendors also must be located at least one kilometer away from schools.

Smoking cigarettes and shisha in closed spaces is banned under the current law, but only government officials can ticket violations.

Amid complaints from residents about lax enforcement, the new legislation would also give malls the power to fine those found smoking on their premises.

Varied success

According to a 2013 World Health Organization study, some 10 percent of Qatar’s adult population smokes (over 200,000 people).

WHO, which interviewed more than 8,000 households here (including nationals and expats) also found that almost half of Qatar’s habitual smokers began their habit before they turned 18.

Reducing Qatar residents’ dependency on tobacco has been a tricky process, in part because the sale of shisha and cigarettes are a big business here.

In 2012, for example, Qatar and several other GCC countries began adding new graphic warning labels on tobacco products, including images of damaged lungs and jaws.

But according to a Supreme Council of Health official, tobacco companies have been pressuring Qatar to remove the labels – a sign that they must be working, he said in November.

Also last year, Souq Waqif restaurants were told to set aside half of their outdoor tables for non-shisha smokers. But that policy was quickly scrapped.

Restaurant management told Doha News at the time that policy was simply unfeasible, as there was always a queue of customers waiting to smoke shisha, while the non-smoking tables sat empty.

Thoughts?

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Firas Zirie
6 years ago

I don’t know who is complaining about lax enforcement of no smoking rules. I hardly ever see anyone smoking indoors at malls, restaurants or other indoor public areas. The biggest violators of the letter of the law are employees who smoke in their offices, but that happens in a minority of offices.

As for a shisha ban, I imagine that Souq Waqif outlets would suffer a disastrous drop in revenue if it happens. I see it being on par with if not worse than the effect the alcohol ban had on the Pearl.

Susan
Susan
6 years ago
Reply to  Firas Zirie

Clearly you and I don’t go to the same malls then, because it is not unusual for me to see men (mostly locals) at the coffee shops inside malls, sitting around drinking, talking to their friends, and smoking — often right underneath the “no smoking” sign for added effect.
Enforcement of laws here is a joke.

KK
KK
6 years ago
Reply to  Susan

Yep, in villagio mall and landmark mall for sure.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  KK

Hyatt Plaza is pretty bad. They solved the smoking problem at the cafe outside Highland by just removing it altogether!

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

haha yes I was quite pleased when it was removed, it stank around there and it seemed to be mostly occupied by dodgy looking characters

Chris
Chris
6 years ago
Reply to  KK

Although I rarely visit villagio anymore, I must say I’ve not seen anyone smoking in the Starbucks there (always seemed to be the worst offenders) for probably close to a year. Maybe I’ve just been lucky…

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Chris

you’ve been lucky, I go there often and I see people smoking every now and then, not many people, and not all the time, but still happens

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Starbucks wasn’t as bad as that cafe next to Marks & Spencer. Things have improved, but it’s still common enough to see the guys sitting out there puffing away without a care in the world.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Susan

this is my experience too, and the security guards stroll by and don’t do or say anything, probably in fear of upsetting them, in fact no one says anything although several people look quite annoyed

Vanessa
Vanessa
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

I have talked to multiple security guards, business owners, and regular employees who all say they can not/will not say anything to Qataris.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Susan

The now closed coffee shop in front of High Land in Hayatt Plaza had mostly Arab (not Qatari) smokers. Same goes for the coffee shop on the 2nd floor at Royal Plaza in front of the elevator. Also the 2 coffee shop at City Center near the cinema.

I suggest we focus on the issue of stopping anyone from smoking indoors rather than pointing fingers at one group.

LoveItOrLeaveIt2
LoveItOrLeaveIt2
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

If it’s wrong, then it’s the Qataris who do it. Typical Doha News mentality.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

Do you EVER add ANYTHING to the conversation other than snide remarks and trolling?

LoveItOrLeaveIt2
LoveItOrLeaveIt2
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

So when are you planning on leaving

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

I rest my case.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

Soon as I suck out as much money as I need.

LoveItOrLeaveIt2
LoveItOrLeaveIt2
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Just like a b*

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

I don’t work for Qatar.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

oooh now we’re calling bad names. Tsk tsk

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Right back at ya 😉

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

I can attest that the vast majority of smokers I see are wearing thobes. And when you ask them to stop the get all insulted. Expat Arabs have always complied. I will say the smoking has decreased substantially though. So we’re getting somewhere.

Funny you say don’t point fingers but that’s what you did.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Well, if it isn’t the king of finger pointing giving us another demonstration of the pot calling the kettle black 😉

Really, expat Arabs have “always” complied? Not in my experience; once at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf I saw two of them yelling at a Japanese / Korean looking lady for asking them to stop smoking. I asked another who was smoking a cigar near the cinema to stop, and he just said “Inshallah, hadreen” and just kept on smoking and talking on his mobile.

Oh, and then there was the time I was with a friend at Royal Plaza, and one of the regulars started smoking so I decided to leave. My friend decided to ask the man to stop, and that man got all offended and angry, and started yelling “You wouldn’t ask me this if I were a Qatari.” After he left, the manager of the shop came to thank him. He told my friend that that man has always caused trouble to them but they don’t know what to do with him.

Again, it wasn’t me who tried to focus the blame on one group here, but we already know that you have no problem with finger pointing as long as the target is Qatari.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

You have had experiences , myself others. Like the group of young Qatais (in thobes) smoking at Hagen Daz. I politely asked them if they wouldn’t mind to stop blowing smoke toward my 10 yr old son. One of the boys got up and asked me who the he!! I was to talk to them. I quietly told him to sit down, shut up and put out the cig or I’d put it out on his forehead. He complied.

And you do blame it on one group. Expat arabs. Correct?

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Nope. I believe every individual who smokes represent him / herself. By directing the blame to one group, we are no longer are focusing the issue itself (indoor smoking), and instead, the blamed group will surely (and rightly) fight back and we will no longer be talking about the issue.

Blaming the whole group is unethical. For example, I object to certain nationalities being blamed for spitting in the street, or claiming that another nationality is known to love booze and are often drunk is just wrong.

The point about my experience with Arab expats is to show that, in fact, there are others beside Qataris who do it.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Agree that it’s an individual act and you can’t hold all members of a group responsible based on some personal experience with a few people. But you also can’t deny the fact that if the majority of offenders (from one’s own experience) are from a group, or two, this will affect peoples perception towards that group. And an added complication is when people feel they can’t, or prefer not to, intervene if the smoker is a local because they don’t want to possibly get in trouble.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

No reason for me to deny what people think or believe. People can think whatever they want. However, your thoughts are your own as long as you keep them inside. If you choose to voice them out publicly, and especially online (like here) then we have a right to respond to that.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

You lost me, what from my reply made you think you don’t have the right to reply or that I wasn’t interested in your opinion. The whole point is that this is a place where we can discuss more easily. Anyway

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

Sorry for the confusion, but you did say, “you also can’t deny the fact that “, so I replied accordingly. However, I do see how my saying that we have a right to respond sounds as if you were against that. Sorry for that bit 🙂

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

As was I on the other side. But I think everyone would agree that the largest group of violators were the locals. Maybe that’s changed now. I don’t see nearly as many “people” smoking illegally as 6-7 yrs ago.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

It really makes no difference to me how you wish to select what you see as the most common trait among those public smokers. No one has yet given me any good reasoning as what goal does that serve other than to just point finger at the “other” to show how better we are than they are.

Instead of the issue being about how to deal with “People who disrespect others and violate the smoking ban”, it becomes just a pointless rant on “Qataris ignore smoking ban is yet another example of Qatari privilege.” (Qatari privilege is a reference to a term used in the U.S., I’m sure you know which one 😉

Since we’re sharing and all, what would be you’re view on the fact that of the 67 mass shootings that took place in the U.S. from 1982 to 2013, by race, the shooters were: white in 44 (65.5%), black in 11 (16.4%), Asian in 6 (9%), and Latino 4 (6%).

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/09/mass-shooters-race-aaron-alexis

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

White, black, asian…those are races and not really relevant to the argument. Really reaching now. You want to ignore it but what I see is a blatant disregard not just for smoking but driving as well, among other things. One kills indirectly the other directly. For the most part the expat community abides by the rules as their existence here is always a bit tenuous and deportation for small and sometimes made up accusations is real. The other group has never been held to task for anything and has a feeling of entitlement that rules don’t apply. Case in point…with my smoking friends at Hagen Daz I first ask the manager and they laughed and ignored him. Why listen to some east asian expat.

Qatari priviege and white privilege, as I’m assuming you are referring to, makes no sense. Again you’re mixing up races with nationalities. It’s not Arabs in general who are the problem as I think you know.

And assuming I am white what privilege did I enjoy? I’ve held a job of some sort since I was 12. I follow the rules of mine, and the country I live in or visit. Are you insinuating I owned slaves or something? Not sure where your argument is going.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Reaching? Not really; just trying to understand your thought process. I just wanted to know how would you react if someone commented on how most mass shootings in the U.S are commented by white people.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

What do smokers and mass shooters have to do with each other? Other than yourself I’d say everyone agrees that the worst offenders are the Qataris of this smoking law. Or maybe some Egyptians in thobe disquise. The guys driving LCs trying to kill people on the roads are…

And how would you feel if someone commented that most terrorist killings are done by Arab Muslims?

Oops another truth that hurts.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

I can see that while you’re always very comfortable making negative general statements and observations about Qataris, you get very defensive when someone makes similar remarks about a group you belong to. You also fail, repeatedly, to provide any supporting facts to back up the outrageous claims you make. You cannot even bring yourself to admit the existence of white privilege.

You say, “Other than yourself I’d say everyone agrees that the worst offenders are the Qataris” Really? You took a poll and “everybody” agreed on that?!

However, for the sake of argument, let’s say that most public smokers are Qatari? So what? How does that observation help with this issue? Sorry, you’re just trying to shame all Qataris because of what a small group of them does.

“The guys driving LCs trying to kill people on the roads are” You’re confusing road rage (common among your people too) by some Qataris with intent to kill. Intent to kill would George Zimmerman chasing Trayvon Martin, murdering him, and getting away with it. Intent to kill would be Frazier Glenn Cross shooting Dr. William Lewis Corporan and his grandson, and then killing a woman in an attack at Jewish retirement community.

As for most terrorist killings are done by Arab Muslims, lol, really? Then how do you explain the fact that “According to a global survey of 66,000 people conducted across 68 countries by the Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research (WINMR) and Gallup International at the end of 2013, Earth’s people see the United States as the most significant threat to peace on the planet.”
https://zcomm.org/zmagazine/uncle-sam-top-menace-to-peace-onand-earth/

Or how about the poll that was done in 2002 where most people choose Bush over Bin Laden & Saddam as the “biggest threat to justice and peace”!
http://www.twf.org/News/Y2002/1109-Poll.html

Why, even according to your own FBI, only 6% of all terrorist attacks in the U.S. from 1980 to 2005 were done by Muslims.
http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/01/not-all-terrorists-are-muslims/

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  Firas Zirie

Have you visited the souq in the last few months, after the enforcement of sheesha bans on some of the smaller establishments which are located behind the main mall area?

The Egyptian sheesha I used to go to has already closed down due to lack of business, and 2 nearby places (Umm Al Hanaya & Musharabiya) have almost no patrons at all now, with a large number of staff out of work as a result.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Firas Zirie

I didn’t think you could smoke in hotel lobbys either but apparently you can.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Sharq hotel is quite bad, either no proper ventilation or a lot more smokers hang out there

Chris
Chris
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

So is the Torch Tower hotel

Pete
Pete
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

It’s a great mystery why hotels are exempt from this law

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

Not really; think of them as no man’s land 😉

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

How are they no mans land? You want tourism but the first thing to hit a tourist walking into hotel is wafts of blue smoke?

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

I guess you’re too old for the reference.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Or maybe in your understanding of the english language you use a common term in a more specific way. But still don’t understand your reference so enlighten me.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

I was in LaCigale and walking into the lobby almost knocks you down. Seems the hotels themselves would want to at least move smokers to some place other than the entrance to your 5*.

Saffa
Saffa
6 years ago
Reply to  Firas Zirie

Kids smoke all the time in the toilets of the cinemas.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Saffa

Don’t remind me. As if the toilets there weren’t gross enough already!

Pete
Pete
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Oh yeah, gross toilets are an issue in themselves. Thankfully I’ve never had to ‘sit down’…

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

I just have to ask what are these young smokers thinking: having to go hide in the bathroom to smoke! I remember in both middle and high school, this was where the smoking kids would go and hide to smoke. Grow up already!

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
6 years ago
Reply to  Firas Zirie

I guess you have never been to the Starbucks at Landmark….

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

You can smoke where you like if you have the right passport, just my observation.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Go to Royal Plaza in the evening, enter the elevator, press 2, wait for the door to open to the 2nd floor. Chances are, you’ll find 1-2 Arab expats smoking. Oh, and if you politely ask them to stop, they’ll ask if you would’ve done the same had the smoker been a Qatari.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

I rest my case..

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
6 years ago

People are interested in smoking but not interested in the disadvantages of smoking

Guest
Guest
6 years ago

They need to ease the draconian and protectionist restrictions on ‘electronic cigarettes’. There is increasing proof that they are able to make even the most seasoned smokes cease the habit and they have gained a big following across the globe and contain significantly less chemicals than those proven to be in cigarettes (including the carcinogenic elements). Nicotine on its own is not harmful in the doses presented.

Harm reduction is the forward, you won’t be able to tackle it through fines to shopkeepers.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Guest

are there any decent electronic cigarettes sold in doha?

Chris
Chris
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

I think (could be wrong) that they are banned in Qatar.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Really? Talk about wrong end of the stick…

Susan
Susan
6 years ago
Reply to  Chris

They are banned. Not sold here and you cannot ship them in via the post, but you can bring them in your luggage if you purchase them outside the country for your own personal consumption.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Susan

Shame. I’ll have to wait then

Guest
Guest
6 years ago
Reply to  Guest

It’ll take time. Just like with Google Glasses, e-cigs will continue to be a hot topic whether it should be legal or not until legislators and the general public figure what of earth it really is.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Guest

Problem is there is little to no oversight in production of the ecig “juice” produced in China. That has been the big sticking point in them gaining approval thru the FDA in the US.

Guest
Guest
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

There is little to no oversight currently in the US either, though I agree people should be hesitant with consumables from China.

FDA approval is needed when a product is marketed as a cessation device. There is no need for this, there just needs to be an industry regulatory body that is able to set standards for quality of ingredient used (PG, VG, flavouring and pharmaceutical nicotine) and manufacturing standards.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

This is ignored all over, you can smoke in the bars and in the offices at your desks of Qatar FA on some floors. If you cannot smoke in enclosed spaces, let’s see the enforcement first. Maybe they are waiting until they get the driving under control before they tackle this one….

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Multi-tasking doesn’t seem one of their strong suits.

Guest
Guest
6 years ago

I have spoken to the Mutawa who leads the prayers in Masjid an Nabi, in medina. I asked him if shisha and ciggerette are halal, makrooh or haram and he answered within a second, Haram. Shisha joints are nothing more than a replacement for bars they have out in the west.

Something for muslims to keep in mind next time they go for shisha.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Guest

People should be able to make decisions for themselves, this man has no more right than any other individual to decide what is right or wrong.

Aussiegirl
Aussiegirl
6 years ago

I wonder if the restaurant owners/managers at Souk Waqif ever considered that the reason that the non smoking tables might be empty because non smokers didn’t want to sit there and have the foul smog from the tables smoking shisha wafting all over them and ruining their dining experience. It always looks so lovely in the outside eating areas there but you can’t enjoy your meal because of the stench of smokers so you’re forced to eat inside if you are a non smoker.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

When are they going to enforce it on the hotels? Belgium Cafe in the Intercon is disgusting, Sherzard bar at Raddison a disgrace, the list goes on and on..the workers are being subjected to so much toxic fumes and I refuse to eat anywhere where people are smoking. Complaints to management are met with, we are upgrading our extraction fans…really? how about not breaking the law and letting people smoke in your establishments.

observer
observer
6 years ago

No cigarette sales within 1Km of schools!
83 new schools being built, soon we’ll have to trek out into the desert to buy cigarettes, all of Doha will be within a Km of a school.
One can’t buy cigarettes in many of the major malls because of this policy, where will it end?
Cars can’t be driven within 1Km of a road because some people misuse them there? Laudable ideal, not selling cigarettes to kids, not thought through, inconvenience everybody, seller and buyer.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  observer

Don’t stress it wont be enforced.

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  observer

Ironically QDC the purveyors of alcohol and the dreaded pork is behind the Islamic ministry (or something like that) and you park against the wall of a school.

outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
6 years ago

The enforcement of no smoking areas is very important. Apart from the issues of polluting the air with smoke, for others to suffer, there are some very relevant safety issues. Many, many times I have visited offices in buildings with a single communal staircase. I was amazed to see men smoking both in the stairwell or in corridors outside the offices-( just witness all the boot marks on walls where smokers congregate,) quite oblivious to the fire risk they pose to the entire building occupants. It only takes one cigarette butt left to smolder and ignite rubbish or other material, and the only means of escape is cut off.
Civil Defense should be proactive in prosecuting Building Owners who do not ensure their tenants abide by the rules. I would suggest their should be a Help Line available to all, to report offenders when they see them. I would have it on speed dial.

outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
6 years ago

Having read all the postings, which descended into a slanging match about the nationality of people who smoke in places where it is banned, I would respectfully ask if anyone can actually say they have seen any person other than someone wearing a thobe, smoking in one of the Shopping Malls. Because, hand on heart, I have not, but have often, including yesterday at 5pm at Starbucks in Landmark, seen a thobe wearing individual, sitting having a relaxing cigarette with a coffee.
I cant have been the only person, but like everyone else, I was not going to risk the wrath of a slighted Local leading to my deportation, so I tutted and walked on by. Enforcement by the Law is the only way, and social stigma. It is up to the heads of communities to point out this disrespect for other’s safety and wellbeing, and the dreadful example it sets to the young

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