No end to public smoking despite health concerns
April 04 2015 11:46 PM
Men smoking in a corridor on Doha’s Bank Street. PICTURE: Jayaram
Men smoking in a corridor on Doha’s Bank Street. PICTURE: Jayaram

By Ramesh Mathew/Staff Reporter

Smoking in public continues to be major concern in the city, and the practice seems to be particularly common along the open corridors of buildings on Bank Street.
While this may not technically constitute a violation of the law, it does pose a serious health hazard to passersby and also acts as an irritant, say residents.
Many of these smokers, Gulf Times has learnt, are people working in offices along the road who step out for a quick drag. Others, like visitors to the area, can also be seen lighting up.
Technically, the smokers are not at fault, it is understood. Referring to a decree enacted in 2002 prohibiting smoking in public, a resident who worked closely with the local health authorities on the issue said: “To my knowledge, only smoking inside offices and public places such as hospitals, cinemas, malls and educational institutions, as well as on public buses, falls under the purview of the 2002 decree.”
He felt there were limitations as far as effective implementation of the law was concerned, which worked to the advantage of smokers.
Amanulla Vadakkangara, co-ordinator of Anti-Smoking Society Qatar, said their organisation had been repeatedly seeking a ban on smoking - in places such as family parks - at the meetings of the follow-up and enforcement committees set up by the government for effective implementation of
the decree.
“We have also taken up the issue with the Supreme Council of Health,” he said, adding that in view of repeated complaints from the public, they would also take up the issue of smoking along the open corridors of buildings in the coming months.
If boards warning people against smoking are put up at places like malls and in open areas, residents need to obey such instructions, it is understood.
“There has been a huge rise in the country’s population since promulgation of the decree that prohibits smoking in public, and it is high time amendments are made to make it more effective so that there is less smoking in areas such as the open corridors of buildings and complexes,” said a resident.
Many residents have been fined over the years for violating the law, especially for smoking inside malls, it is learnt.

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