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GAM closes down dozens of outlets serving argileh

‘Crackdown part of broad campaign launched in response to complaints by Amman residents’

By Dana Al Emam - Dec 07,2016 - Last updated at Dec 07,2016

A young man smokes argileh at a café in Amman on Wednesday (Photo by Osama Aqarbeh)

AMMAN — The Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) has registered 267 violations by cafés and restaurants that serve argileh (water pipe), and has closed down 83 of these outlets since the beginning of November, a GAM official said.

In a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times upon request, Mervat Mheirat, the director of the GAM’s health supervision department, said the crackdown on violators of the Public Health Law and crafts regulation is part of a broad campaign that came in response to inspectors’ observations and citizen complaints.

According to the law, smoking is prohibited in hospitals, healthcare centres, schools, cinemas, theatres, libraries, museums, public and non-governmental buildings, public transport vehicles, airports, closed playgrounds, lecture halls and any other location as determined by the health minister.

The law also stipulates that any person caught smoking in a public place is subject to between one week and one month imprisonment or a JD15-JD25 fine. The same penalties apply to those who sell cigarettes to minors.

A total of 160 out of the overall number of the latest GAM-registered violations included serving argileh to minors, causing noise, obstructing pavements and promoting tobacco products in brochures and over social media outlets, the statement said, adding that 20 per cent of violators have rectified their situation.

Meanwhile, violations related to the argileh ban reached 107 of the total number, with around half of violators having corrected their situation, GAM said.

According to Feras Hawari, director of the cancer control office at the King Hussein Cancer Centre, a single session of argileh smoking can be as damaging to health as smoking between 3 and 10 packets of cigarettes.

Coal, used to heat the argileh, is “extremely toxic” and releases up to 100 parts per million carbon monoxide emissions, the physician told The Jordan Times in previous remarks, adding that such emissions could cause asphyxiation among smokers as well as affecting passive smokers.

Around 23 per cent of Jordanians between the ages of 13 and 15 smoke argileh, according to the Jordan National Anti-Smoking Society.

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