Enforcing Jordan’s Smoking Ban: Is the Kingdom Blowing Smoke?


Five years following its ban on smoking in restaurants and other public spaces, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will start enforcing the rules. By year end, government will also revoke licenses which allow an estimated 6,000 coffee shops to serve sheesha (the Middle Eastern water pipe used for tobacco smokes).

Smoking is so ubiquitous here in Jordan that motorists suck on miniature sheesha pipes while navigating city traffic, hospital workers light up cigarettes indoors, and beneath every “no smoking” sign in every city mall you’ll find people, well, smoking.

Law enforcement began in 2009 with shopping malls and Queen Alia International Airport first enacting the ban, followed by fast food restaurants. Smoking is banned in hospitals, schools, cinemas, libraries, museums, government buildings, and on public transportation.

Under 18? Technically you can’t buy smokes, but shops rarely respect the law. Violators are subject to imprisonment for up to one month or a fine of up to $35. But who’s watching?

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