Thursday, January 7, 2010

Going smoke free in the UAE

They're doing their best to make me like this place.

The president signed a new law yesterday that pretty much bans smoking in public. That's a big deal here, where every bar and restaurant you walk into reeks of cigarette smoke -- and so do you, by the time you leave. It makes you think twice about ordering food, because you know you're likely to have someone next to you blowing smoke your way throughout the meal.

About 25 percent of the population are daily smokers, and they're not shy about lighting up. No one asks if you mind if they smoke. A few people might hold their cigarettes off to the side to keep the smoke from drifting your way, but not many.

But the government's not messing around with this new law. You can't sell tobacco products in residential areas; businesses must have a permit to set up separate smoking areas; you're not allowed to smoke in your car if a child is riding with you; and all tobacco advertisement is banned. Businesses can lose their licenses or be shut down if they're caught violating the ban.

Now if I can just get them to do something about the rent prices ...

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