Jordan announces smoking crackdown in coronavirus fight

Jordanian army members stand guard at a check point after the start of a nationwide curfew, amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus in Amman, Jordan. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 02 July 2020

Jordan announces smoking crackdown in coronavirus fight

  • Jordan has one of the world’s highest smoking rates
  • The kingdom introduced a cigarette ban in public places in 2008

AMMAN: Jordan has extended a ban on cigarettes in closed public spaces to all forms of smoking, citing the fight against COVID-19 in a country with one of the world’s highest smoking rates.
“In order to protect the health and safety of citizens, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, smoking of all forms (cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and shisha) is banned in closed public places,” the health ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
The World Health Organization has long ranked Jordan’s 10 million inhabitants among the world’s biggest smokers.
The Guardian last month published figures showing that the kingdom had surpassed Indonesia to have the highest smoking rates in the world, with more than eight out of 10 men regularly smoking or otherwise consuming nicotine.
Citing the WHO, the health ministry said that “smokers and passive smokers are more vulnerable to being infected by COVID-19, with stronger symptoms.”
Jordan has registered 1,133 cases of the COVID-19 illness, including nine deaths.
The kingdom introduced a cigarette ban in public places in 2008, but the new regulations cover electronic cigarettes and shisha waterpipes popular in the region.
However they only apply in “fully closed” public areas.
“The decision doesn’t bother me much because I don’t smoke arghileh (shisha) in closed places,” said waterpipe enthusiast Khaled Al-Shamhuri.
“The smoking ban in public places is old but wasn’t enforced.”
Coffee shop employee Hassan Al-Shadfan said the new rules would “negatively affect us.”
“The cafe is a closed space and most clients don’t just come to eat or drink tea and coffee, most smoke arghileh,” he said.
But Ahmad Rubbaa, owner of a cafeteria selling cigarettes, was less concerned.
“A smoker is a smoker wherever they are, no law can stop them,” he said.
“I don’t think this will affect tobacco sales.”


Lebanese security forces kill two members of armed group, sources say

Updated 7 min 4 sec ago

Lebanese security forces kill two members of armed group, sources say

  • Three members of the Lebanese security forces were also injured in the clash, which began after Lebanese forces raided a house in the Wadi Khaled area
  • The group included people linked to the militant Khaled Al-Talawi, who was killed earlier this month in a shootout with security forces

BEIRUT: The Lebanese security forces killed at least two militants during a heavy exchange of fire on Saturday with an armed group in northeast Lebanon, close to the Syrian border, security sources said.
Three members of the Lebanese security forces were also injured in the clash, which began after Lebanese forces raided a house in the Wadi Khaled area, where the group that was suspected of planning attacks was holed up, the sources said.
The group included Syrians and Lebanese, the sources said, adding that the scale of the clash, in which militants fired rocket propelled grenades, prompted the Lebanese army to cordon off the area.
The sources said the group included people linked to the militant Khaled Al-Talawi, who was killed earlier this month in a shootout with security forces. Four Lebanese soldiers were killed in that clash.
Talawi was described as a former member of the Daesh group and leader of a cell behind the killing in August of three people in north Lebanon.