Bahrain mulls ban on smoking in parks
Manama, December 17, 2012
Smoking could be banned at all public parks, gardens and walkways in Bahrain under new restrictions, said a report.
Councillors are working on a new municipal legislation to curb smoking in public areas and encourage people to kick the habit, according to the report in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.
The Central Municipal Council was set to vote on banning smoking at all municipal facilities in the Central Governorate, but was told by the Central Municipality that the anti-smoking law did not include articles on outdoor smoking.
It is now working on amendments to the law, with Bahrain's four other municipal councils, and will refer it to parliament for approval.
The council will also put up new anti-smoking signs across the governorate and will conduct a survey in co-ordination with the Health Ministry and the Bahrain Anti-Smoking Society to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking.
"Honestly, I want the smoking ban in public parks, gardens and walkways to be introduced now if possible, but there are steps that we have to take to raise awareness first before it gets enforced on people," said council chairman Abdulrazzak Al Hattab.
"First we have to set up signs that show the dangers of smoking and carry out a survey on whether people think the ban is a good idea.
"We will also meet officials of the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry, which all municipal facilities come under, to come up with a mechanism on possible implementation in the future and if municipal legislation is enough or there is a need for amendments to the anti-smoking law, which would require parliament's intervention.
"To give our initiative a bigger push we will work with Bahrain's four other councils to have the same measures taken in a bid to have a national anti-smoking campaign in all municipal facilities, to take votes on new municipal decisions on prohibition and to work with all those concerned to enforce it within a year."
Al Hattab said that the ban was necessary following several complaints from non-smokers.
"There are cases in which there are fathers watching their children play on rides while they chain-smoke, we have youths playing or walking around family gathering areas with cigarettes in their mouths and in other cases we have children smoking, which is a bad example to others," he said.
"Smoking is also hazardous because grass or trees could catch fire as careless people throw cigarettes on the ground. People come to municipal facilities to inhale clean air and not such poisons."
The council was the first in Bahrain to initiate a regulation on smoking in shops and sheesha cafes, which only allow those above 18 to smoke.
"What was then a proposed municipal legislation that we introduced and got endorsed by the Health Ministry as a ministerial decision has now become part of the anti-smoking law and now with people taking a stand against smoking the platform for more restrictions is easy," added Al Hattab. – TradeArabia News Service