The Middle East is a safe haven for smokers. Whether that be in taxis, supermarkets or even the doctor’s office - yep, no smokescreen there, we ain’t kidding you! So implementing a ban might set off a few angry smoke detectors in the form of grumpy puffers!
Shisha and smoking have become an important part of Arab culture. Those opposed to the ban insist that businesses will be negatively-affected, while the pro-ban (healthy, party poopers) brigade want some fresh air without those nasty “cancer sticks” in their faces all the time.
What seems like a sensible way to curb passive smoking has worked out well in European countries, but will it ever happen in the Middle East or is it just a smoky fantasy? A progress report of the smoking ban and how much traction it has had in the region follows in honor of WHO's World No Tobacco Day.
Fun Fact: Believe it or not, Syria pioneered the smoking ban in the region as early as 2010 before the country went up in smoke.