The Jordanian Ministry of Health has announced plans to ban all forms of smoking in closed public places in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In order to protect the health and safety of citizens, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, smoking of all forms (cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and shisha) is banned in closed public spaces”, Agence France Presse (AFP) quoted a statement from the Jordanian health ministry as saying.
The report stated that more than 80 per cent of Jordanian men use nicotine products, or cigarettes, including “smokeless” or e-cigarettes, citing a 2019 Jordanian Ministry of Health study in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Of those who smoke daily, 90.8 per cent smoke manufactured cigarettes and “consume an average of 23 cigarettes a day”, the British newspaper reported, citing health experts who claim the reason for the high rates is the influence manufacturers and tobacco companies have on regulations in Jordan.
In the announcement, the health ministry said one reason for the ban is the higher prevalence of strong coronavirus symptoms in smokers. AFP quoted the statement as saying, “smokers and passive smokers are more vulnerable to being infected by COVID-19, with strong symptoms”.
To date, Jordan has registered 1,133 confirmed coronavirus cases, among them nine deaths.
An initial ban on smoking cigarettes in enclosed public spaces was introduced in 2008, the recent announcement, however, extends the prohibition to include electronic cigarettes and shisha pipes.
The ban, however, only includes smoking in “fully closed” public spaces, raising questions over where and how the law will be enforced.
A coffee shop employee in Jordan was quoted by AFP as saying the rules would “negatively affect us”.
“The café is a closed space and most clients don’t just come to eat or drink tea and coffee, most smoke arghileh.”
The owner of a cafeteria selling cigarettes, however, showed less concern, stating, “a smoker is a smoke wherever they are, no law can stop them… I don’t think this will affect tobacco sales”.