Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH – The recent indoor smoking ban that is being enforced throughout all public venues has left Jeddah café owners wondering whether or not they will be able to remain in business any longer.
Cafes are a favorite place for people to smoke both cigarettes and shisha but with the smoking ban in place, business has dwindled and owners are worried about their future.
The Interior Ministry made the decision to ban smoking in Jeddah and tasked the city’s municipality with enforcing the smoking ban in cafes, restaurants and public places, the Al-Watan daily reported.
Recognizing that many of their customers have switched the venues of social gatherings to their homes, several cafes in the city have launched electronic shisha delivery services where a shisha and hot coals are delivered to customers in their homes for as little as SR30 and an additional fully-refundable SR100 deposit.
Owners have also tried other means to retain their customer base and skirt the ban including turning cafes into discreet invitation-only places or transforming them into outdoor ones.
Ads on social networking sites have been promoting the home delivery service and officials are not very happy. The official spokesman of Jeddah municipality, Abdulaziz Al-Nahari, said home deliveries are governed by regulations from the municipality and other bodies.
“Shisha deliveries contradict these regulations, and are unlawful.
The smoking ban is still in effect and violators will be persecuted,” he warned.
Dr. Maha Hariri, a clinical psychologist, recently started the “Life Without Shisha” campaign directed toward young women and teenagers who smoke. She said that the majority of her patients in this age bracket smoke shisha to “draw their families’ attention, and prove a point.”
The Executive Director of Makkah Charity Society for Anti-Smoking (Kafa), Salah Al-Zahrani, called upon the municipalities to intensify their monitoring of cafes and warned about the harmful effects of smoking shisha.
“A four-year study proved that shisha, a mixture of tobacco, artificial colors and flavors, causes a number of illnesses, of which cancer is the most prominent,” he said.