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Mushrooming shisha cafes on corniche alarm visitors

JEDDAH: The municipal council confirmed on Saturday that the regional governorate has received complaints from citizens on the proliferation of shisha cafes along the Jeddah corniche.
A large number of families and young men complained to the governorate about an unhealthy environment that leads to chest illnesses, and demanded that the appropriate authorities intervene and solve this problem, a local publication reported.
“When you pass by the corniche, you are filled with the smell of shisha which emits toxins and poisons in the air. Every individual who runs such cafes must be held accountable and punished,” said Mohammad Al-Johani, a frequent visitor to the corniche.
Another citizen, Fahd Al-Harbi, said the seafront has been transformed into a maze of shisha cafes. Referring to the dangers and hazards of the small gas cylinders that are used to ignite the coals, he said: “If, God forbid, they explode, a great number of people around the place would become victims. This is a source of concern, and is hazardous for picnickers and families who come to have a peaceful moment along the seafront.”
Another citizen, Ibrahim Qara, said that on Thursday and Friday, during the weekends, large numbers of shisha smokers come to the corniche. “I stopped going there with my family on these days,” he said.
A recent medical study found that shisha smoke contains large quantities of toxic materials that cause cancer, and that the blood of shisha smokers contains high levels of carbon monoxide.
Shisha smoking is associated with elevated risks of cancer and chronic serious diseases because of its high content of lead and arsenic. And because shisha smokers take turns using the water pipe, from one mouth to another, this makes them further exposed to the risks of infectious diseases.
The spokesman for the Jeddah Municipal Council, Saeed Al-Zahrani, said there was a decision issued by the Interior Ministry to prevent shisha smoking on the corniche.
Jeddah municipality spokesman Omar Humaidan said the corniche is a public entertainment site and people cannot be banned from enjoying it.
Meanwhile, the municipality denied rumors circulating in the social media that a committee, formed by the municipality and the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia), has confiscated shishas on the corniche and forced smokers to pay a fine of SR300.
However, it said: "Any individual practices that may cause damage to public facilities are punishable and include fines and other penalties.”

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