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It’s high time to ban shisha smoking

By Sadiyah Muhandis | ARAB NEWS | 2 Jan 2012

Shisha smoking has become a widespread habit among various sections of Saudi society. A large number of elders are now addicts of Shisha while young adults are very much fond of smoking it. Shisha is being served at most public places, including parks, gardens, and beach cabins, as well as at restaurants and coffee shops.

Even though smoking was banned in public places, shisha was available at some of these places.

There is a general tendency to earn profit by marketing most of goods at places where people gather in large numbers such as beaches and public parks.

Shisha is one among these goods that people want to have while they are out for leisure and relaxation. Even those who are keen to avoid smoking cigarettes as something injurious to health see no harm in having a few puffs of shisha.

They even allow their children to share shisha with them while they spend weekend holidays at public places. Even those who do not smoke shisha have become victims of its passive smoking while they are out for relaxation at public places.

It is noteworthy that a number of countries have enacted legislation to ban all types of smoking, including shisha at public places. It is high time for the Kingdom also to introduce such legislation against shisha smoking.

While speaking to Arab News, a number of men and women representing various age groups of the Saudi society stressed this point. They voiced their resentment over this habit, which is becoming a grave phenomenon.

They underlined the need for intensifying inspections and monitoring at public places to prevent all types of smoking and take punitive measures against the violators.

The 36-year-old Mais, mother of three children, called on authorities to issue directives to set apart separate areas for serving shisha outside restaurants, parks and beach cabins, away from children and young adults.

“We feel suffocated when going out to some public places and beaches where there are facilities for shisha smoking. I am anxious not to have the effects of passive smoking especially affect my children, among whom one is asthmatic,” she said.

Hind, a 43-year-old woman, says that shisha has become part of the life for some women, especially youngsters. “This led to the springing up of several shisha smoking areas in public places. Some cafes and restaurants serve shisha even to children,” she said while stressing the need for conducting programs aimed at increasing awareness of the public, especially parents, about the dangers of smoking.

She called on authorities to take stringent action against the current practice of misusing public places to earn profit by operating areas for shisha smoking, in addition to preventing children and youngsters from becoming addicts of smoking, beginning with a few puffs of shisha.

Khaled, aged 32, also voiced his indignation at the practice of some cafes and indoor restaurants serving shisha. “The law to prevent smoking at public places shall be applicable to shisha smoking also. Strict enforcement of the law would also help visitors of public places from the harmful effect of passive smoking,” he said while criticizing the habit of some parents to smoke shisha in the presence of their children.

Anas, a 20-year-old university student, said indoor facilities where ventilation is limited should not be allowed to serve shisha. “There could be separate outdoor areas for shisha smoking at cafes and restaurants. The concerned authorities should take measures to discourage children from frequenting shisha smoking areas,” he said.

Reem, aged 29, is a shisha smoker both at home and outside. She says that shisha smoking has become part of her daily routine mainly because of a lot of free time. “I tried my best to stop smoking, especially shisha, several times but to no avail. Whenever I go outside for relaxation and recreation, I cannot resist its smell. I am not in a position to stay away from the company of my family members and friends when they gather together to have a few puffs of shisha,” she said while disclosing the fact that it is very difficult to quit the habit in the midst of smokers everywhere.

Similar is the case with Hiba. The 18-year-old girl says that her mother used to smoke shisha both at home and outside. “One day, when my mother left for living room in the midst of smoking shisha, I tried to smoke it. Then I had the feeling that I was doing the act as a grown up woman. After this, it has become my habit to smoke shisha in the company of my friends at restaurants and cafes,” she said.

She added: “I enjoy freedom while smoking shisha outside home and nobody among my family members know until now about my habit.”

Muhammad, aged 20, sees in shisha something enjoyable despite its harmful effect. “I see shisha everywhere — at home, restaurants and recreation centers. Shisha smoking has now become a part of recreation in my life. I am helpless in stopping its smoking especially in the company of my friends when we gather at restaurants and cafes,” he said while noting that his parents do not prevent him from smoking shisha as they see it is better than smoking cigarettes.



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