ABU DHABI // Shisha cafes are still being granted permission to open in residential areas and near schools, a member of the Federal National Council said on Tuesday.
Marwan bin Ghalita (Dubai) said some government entitities were flouting the country's tobacco laws, which state shisha cafes must be at least 150 metres away from residential buildings, schools, hospitals and mosques, by allowing new cafes to open.
Mr bin Ghalita had prepared questions on the subject for the Minister of Health, Abdulrahman Al Owais. Although the minister failed to attend the session, he provided the council with a detailed report about the actions the Government has taken to warn residents of the dangers of smoking.
Mr bin Ghalita said tobacco laws needed to be enforced “to protect and preserve the rights” of Emiratis.
While the anti-smoking campaigns should be lauded, he said, many government departments were still permitting shisha cafes to open in residential neighbourhoods.
“The cafes are very much available – under apartment buildings and close to schools – and tobacco is also found everywhere. We need to find a way to limit this practice. Schoolchildren find it easy to access the smoking centres,” he said.
He believed the anti-smoking campaign was being thwarted by “the signature of a pen”.
“We are talking about efforts of a whole country here and this law must prohibit any employee who undermines and underestimates the law.” He said the law “must be applied properly”.
He suggested the FNC draw up an action plan to implement licensing standards and prevent further permits for shisha cafes that breach the laws.