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13 deputies call for allowing argileh in restaurants, cafés

By Khaled Neimat - Mar 02,2014 - Last updated at Mar 02,2014

AMMAN — A few weeks after the authorities decided to implement a ban on smoking argileh in public places, several MPs on Sunday called for allowing the use of water pipes in specific areas.

In a memo submitted to Lower House Speaker Atef Tararwneh, the 13 signatories proposed an amendment to the 2008 Public Health Law, under which they called for allowing argileh smoking in “restaurants, cafés and tourist sites”.

They said it would be a step to protect investments worth JD1 billion that are benefiting from argileh smoking in the country and employing at least 12,000 people.

The signatories warned that forcing argileh cafés and restaurants to close will harm public revenues and negatively affect the tourism sector, as the water pipe is popular among Arab tourists in peak seasons.

Last month, the Greater Amman Ministry (GAM) announced that it will not issue or renew any licences for cafés or restaurants dedicated to serving argileh, triggering a major debate among Jordanians, particularly owners of coffee shops and restaurants who have made a business out of this activity.

According to GAM, its decision is in implementation of a request from the Health Ministry to enforce the law and ban smoking in public places.

The application of the law will go into effect on April 1, since all licences issued to restaurants and cafés that offer argileh expire by March 31, according to Amman Mayor Aqel Biltaji.

The Public Health Law, which prohibits smoking in public places, was enforced in the Kingdom’s shopping malls and Queen Alia International Airport in March 2009, and in fast-food restaurants in June of the same year.

A Cabinet decision prohibiting smoking in ministries and public institutions went into force May 25, 2010.

According to the law, smoking is prohibited in public places, which include hospitals, healthcare centres, schools, cinemas, theatres, libraries, museums, public and non-governmental buildings, public transport vehicles, airports, closed playgrounds, lecture halls and any other location to be determined by the health minister.

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