Why The Dubai Smoking Ban Can’t Come Soon Enough

From the perspective of a devoted second-hand non-smoker.

smoking main

First off, let’s get a couple of things straight: I don’t smoke and I don’t judge those that do. It’s your life, and you’re welcome to live it however you like. But, as a non-smoker living in the UAE, I do have a few things to say about why a smoking ban is needed. And it is needed.

On more than one occasion (every weekend) I’ve left a dense, smoky café or bar with stinging eyes, a mouth tasting like an ashtray and smelly, needs-two-washes clothes. The following morning, I’ll wake up with a thin layer of tarry smog clogging my pores and jump in the shower to vigorously wash away the residue of the nicotine-infused evening before. Just to reiterate: I don’t smoke.

cigarette body one

I don’t, but smoking affects my life on a daily basis. Whether that’s nipping out with the boss to talk business through lungfulls of second-hand smoke, getting burnt on the eyelid at a concert (strange example, but that actually happened) or having to sit in the smoking section for a casual dinner with friends, a certain portion of my life is dictated by little filter-tipped cigarettes.

“But no one’s forcing you to sit in the smoking section!” I hear you cry, as you slowly remove a packet-fresh Marlboro and place it between your lips. Well, with all due respect, they are forcing me. Firstly, most of my friends smoke and I don’t discriminate based on habits, and, secondly, if there’s a smoking section in a Dubai restaurant, generally the whole venue is thick with the stuff.

cigarette bomb

Now, I’m not holding a banner that says “BAN EVERYONE FROM SMOKING!” but I am saying that certain restrictions – like those imposed in many European countries – would be beneficial. I’m a big supporter of dedicated smoking areas (a bit like Ramadan), I think no smoking in public spaces is beneficial and I believe the workplace is better off as a smoke-free zone. And I don’t think Dubai, the cultural melting pot that it is, is too far from imposing these blanket changes.

However, the question of when is anyone’s guess. We’ve all heard rumours and read stacks of tenuous news reports. ‘UAE-wide smoking ban in public spaces next year,’ ‘Dubai moves to ban smoking in public places’ are just two examples from dozens of stories run across national newspapers last year alone. In my reading, it’s hard to tell whether any of these rules have yet come into force, but – if they have – I haven’t seen much change.

In short, more can be done. Dubai is a city that ranks among the biggest and best metropolises of the world, and it’s time we implement clear-cut, citywide smoking restrictions that match our status. Then again, it's only my opinion.

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