Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Smoking ban - but will it be enforced? And how?

It seems there's another attempt to ban, or at least limit, smoking in public buildings, with all the morning papers carrying the story.

The instruction has come from the Dubai Executive Council with details to be officially announced on May 31.

If I understand the usual somewhat unclear reports, it will begin with a ban in government & 'public' buildings and educational facilities on May 31, then in shopping malls and 'amusement centres' from mid-September and from mid-November all food establishments, beauty salons, hotels and cinemas will have to abide by the rule.

Fines, unspecified at this stage, will begin to be imposed from the beginning of 2008.

There will be a blanket ban on smoking in schools, educational establishments, salons, health clubs, internet cafes, food courts and offices. Shopping malls, cafes and restaurants won't have a total ban, but must have smoking lounges or areas which must have adequate ventilation and/or smoke absorbers. People under the age of 21 will not be allowed to enter these smoking areas.

So far so good. The proof will be in the enforcement, something that Dubai is not very good at. We have regulations but little regulation. Traffic rules, construction site safety rules, permitted construction times, parking rules, all are routinely ignored and there's little enforcement.

How and by whom they will be enforced is another question.

Will 'security' personnel in various buildings such as malls and cinemas be trained in how to approach smoking-ban violators? How to deal with refusals to 'stub out'? How to deal with being ignored, or abused? And then what? Will they call the police? Can they detain the smoker until the police arrive?

Who will have the power to issue fines? Will they be on-the-spot fines? How will the fines be enforced?

There are more questions than answers at the moment.

Smoking bans work with the support of the population, as they have in various cities around the world. The big question is whether Dubai's population will be willing to go along with the regulations.

I have my doubts.

A couple of the stories:
Gulf News
Khaleej Times

No comments: