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.”


Turkey: EU sanctions on Turkish firm over Libya embargo show bias

Updated 22 September 2020

Turkey: EU sanctions on Turkish firm over Libya embargo show bias

  • The EU on Monday froze the assets of Avrasya Shipping
  • ‘EU’s Irini Operation is rewarding Haftar, and punishing the UN-recognized Libyan Government’

ISTANBUL: Turkey said on Tuesday the European Union sanctions on a Turkish firm accused of breaking a UN arms embargo on Libya displayed the EU’s double standard and biased stance.
The EU on Monday froze the assets of Avrasya Shipping, whose cargo vessel Cirkin was involved in a naval incident between NATO members France and Turkey in June.
The EU has accused the company of using the ship to smuggle weapons to Libya. Ankara denies the arms-trafficking claim and says the ship was carrying humanitarian aid.
“The EU’s Irini Operation is rewarding Haftar, and punishing the UN-recognized Libyan Government,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday, referring to the EU’s military mission in the Mediterranean to stop arms from reaching warring factions in Libya.
Ankara has supported Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord based in Tripoli. Eastern Libya and much of the south, however, is controlled by Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which is backed by Egypt and Russia.
“Overlooking those countries and companies, starting with the UAE, that send weapons from land and air to the putschist Haftar in violation of the (United Nations Security Council) decisions, while the support provided to the legitimate government ... is deemed an embargo violation, is a clear signal that the EU is ... biased,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said.
In addition to sanctions on the Turkish company, the EU also imposed sanctions on two Libyan men, and two other companies – Kazakhstan’s Sigma Airlines and Jordan’s Med Wave Shipping.
Turkey may also face EU sanctions due to a dispute with Greece and Cyprus over ownership of natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean, although tensions between Ankara and Athens have declined in recent days.
“When effort is being made to decrease the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, taking such a wrong decision is unfortunate,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said, referring to the sanctions on Avrasya Shipping.