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Iftaa Department issues fatwa prohibiting e-cigarettes, argileh

By Renad Aljadid - Nov 29,2018 - Last updated at Nov 29,2018

AMMAN — The Iftaa Department on Wednesday issued a fatwa stating that smoking electronic cigarettes and argileh (water pipe) was “prohibited by Sharia”, saying that it affects health and is a waste of money. 

In a country where around 61 per cent of Jordanian families have a member who smokes, as stated in a report by the Department of Statistics (DoS), the issued fatwa created a fuss on social media platforms.

The department said the fatwa comes after electronic cigarettes have been widely promoted as alternatives for traditional tobacco and argileh, noting that both have the same dangerous effects reported by the World Health Organisation and the Health Ministry. 

The statement added that the prohibition was based on the Quranic verses which prohibit “what is evil” and commands people not to “cast themselves into ruin with their own hands”.

Most comments on social media have been negative, with people saying that the department should issue fatwas on more pressing issues such as corruption, illicit gains, taxes and nepotism.

An Islamic cleric who preferred to remain unnamed said that the Iftaa Department issues hundreds of fatwas in response to received questions all the time, but the media chooses to highlight some topics more than others.

“There are existing fatwas by the department that prohibit corruption, illicit gains and other major issues, but they are not given highlight,” he told The Jordan Times, adding, “media outlets direct the public’s opinion through the topics they opt to shed light on”. 

Others said that the fatwa could be viewed as a religious deterrent and a motive to help people quit the “unhealthy practice” which is common among the Jordanian community.

A DoS report issued in 2016 showed that the total spending on tobacco in 2016 amounted to JD602 million. Another survey released this year by the DoS revealed that on average families spend JD558 annually on tobacco, while the Tobacco Atlas 2018 showed that every year, more than 3,100 Jordanians die by a tobacco-caused disease, which translates to 61 deaths per week. 

Nonetheless, more than 9,000 children aged between 10 and 14 and 1.051 million people over 15 years of age continue to use tobacco every day, according to the Atlas.

In April this year, the cabinet endorsed new regulations to limit the import of cigarette manufacturing machinery and regulate the import and sale of tobacco.

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