A group of expatriate youngsters smoking at the Central Bus Station in Doha while others queue up behind to board buses. PICTURE: Jayan Orma.
By Joseph Varghese
With World No Tobacco Day to be observed tomorrow, a Qatari anti-smoking official has called for shifting shisha outlets out of the Doha city limits.
“Shisha smoking needs to be addressed in a big way as it is more dangerous than cigarette smoking. The recent policy of Katara to ban shisha smoking in public should be followed by all such outlets,” Dr Ahmed Mohamed al-Mulla, director of Anti-Smoking Clinic, Hamad Medical Corporation, told Gulf Times.
“There should be strict enforcement of the law about smoking in public places and efforts are needed to curtail shisha smoking,” he said.
Dr al-Mulla said shisha outlets should be moved to less inhabited areas outside the city. “The same has been done in Saudi Arabia. This will limit people from smoking shisha as they need to travel a lot and will harm others less.”
Meanwhile, people continue to flout the ban on smoking in public places, as a Gulf Times visit to various spots in Doha showed. People could be seen smoking outside shopping malls, in parks, and at the Central Bus Station in Al Ghanim.
A regular passenger said he often finds people smoking in the waiting area of the bus station. “But nobody bothers about it. This is a common practice. Many of the smokers are unaware of the rules. Maybe a signboard can be put up to warn them.”
Parking lots around shopping malls are another area where smokers gather. Several people could be seen smoking in these places, mostly in small groups.
Dr al-Mulla said stricter implementation of the law was necessary. “We have a legislation banning smoking in public places. But the implementation part is lacking. The Supreme Council of Health has deputed several officers to check the practice. But at the ground level, not much action is taking place. There must be a greater enforcement of the law,” he said.
The World Health Organisation and its partners mark World No Tobacco Day on May 31, highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.