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Coffee-house culture under fire in Jordan

| January 28, 2014

The Jordanian government is coming under fire for planning to enforce fully, by the end of this year, an anti-tobacco law passed in 2008, according to an Associated Press report published in The Tampa Tribune, Florida, US.

Enforcement would see the government this year revoke the licenses of all 6,000 coffee shops that serve shisha.

Business owners and smokers are criticizing the push, saying it goes against the culture of a country.

“We are caught between a rock and a hard place whereby the government is trying to force a closure of our businesses,” Mazen Alsaleh, who owns 14 coffee and hookah shops around the country, was quoted as saying.

“I am not defending the hookah or smoking, but we must defend our investments.”

But Health Minister Ali Hyasat, who is spearheading the effort to enforce the smoking ban, said the measure was meant to “save lives, not businesses”.

Hyasat said that smoking was costing lives and more than $1 billion annually in health care programs to treat smokers.

Enforcement started in 2009 with shopping malls and Amman’s QueenAliaInternationalAirport first enacting the smoking ban. They were followed by fast food restaurants.

The law bans smoking in hospitals, schools, cinemas, libraries, museums, government buildings, public transportation and other places to be determined by the health minister.

It prohibits, too, sales of tobacco products to those under the age of 18.

Category: Breaking News

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