Through The Smokescreen Laws

Apparently plans to begin banning smoking from public places are moving forward, with one of the first stops being shopping malls. This is all supposedly in line with the Public Health law.

According to the law, this includes hospitals, healthcare centres, schools, cinemas, theatres, libraries, museums, public and nongovernmental buildings, public transport vehicles, airports, closed playgrounds, lecture halls and any other location to be determined by the health minister. [source]

Ministries and hospitals will be the first victims but like I’ve said before, the likelihood of any of this actually being implemented in the long run is around the same probability that Georgia will invade Russia (both state and nation). You could probably ban smoking just about anywhere in Jordan except in public and government buildings, especially those not run by security officials. There’s irony to that I suppose.

When it comes to shopping malls the idea is to basically have a “designated” smoking area. Some malls in Dubai have that and I always found it hilarious because at least there you actually see people abiding to the law. It was the oddest thing to see two or three people huddled around a little sign in the middle of a mall, smoking – but all basically foreigners. That would never happen in a “real” Arab city (no offense Dubai) where the majority of people are actually Arabs. Nothing would compel a Jordanian to smoke under a sign unless that sign was a no-smoking sign, which is actually a common sight in public hospitals.


A few people will get slapped with a couple of 15JD fines and in the best case scenario, a lot of people will be fined for a few months, and then the law will be forgotten. But of course another minister will come along and amend the law or revive it, and the circle of life in Jordan continues. Anyone who thinks otherwise probably hasn’t been out too often lately – or at least not to the right places.

I wonder.

If the government was run by a business that saw potential in this policy. A business that saw it could increase profits by increasing efficiency, which would mean a healthier workforce, less money spent on health care, all the while seeing the potential revenue that could be generated by fining people (the majority of which are smokers)….would such public policies be in better shape?

Can the violators of laws be trusted to be the architects of laws? More importantly, moving down in the food chain, can the violators of laws be trusted to be the implementers of laws?

These are just random thoughts off the top of my head, but given the privatization program the government has been on these past few years, I cannot help but wonder if some of our public institutions need their management privatized (not sold).

With that in mind, I snapped this picture a few days ago in an office building somewhere in Amman:

smoking in amman



  • “I’m a plant not an ashtray”

    ahhhh, you poor ashtray, oops, i mean plant! if only you knew how many hundred times I’ve told selfish smokers in Jordan that i have lungs not filters for their filthy smoke.. and guess what? I was totally ignored, and perhaps in the back of their heads they would say, ” to hell with your lungs”…

    you, poor plant, and I are comrades in suffering from smokers and unfortunately will be for as long as our lifetimes…

  • It probably will require a separate police unit, that has non-smokers as members. And make it a self-financing unit (i.e. the more they fine people the more they make). At least corruption in this case would make everyone healthier 🙂

  • A law is a good step in iteself. Hope they surprise us and aggressively apply it. They do a good job fining people for traffic violations, they would manage to make this work.

  • If they cannot permanantly enforece the law, they should not have come up with it because that made us a nation used to breaking laws.
    As a first step, they should just ban smoking in 2 places:
    1- Queen Alia airport
    2- Public hospitals
    and make a few designated smoking areas there
    then go from there to transportation, cinemas….etc
    and raise the price of cigarettes , I wouldn’t mind seeing a packet of Marloboro for ten JDs

  • When you take a look upon the state of our inherent lack of discipline many; and one can’t figure out how any government initiative could force any sort of uniformity or organization to things like queuing in line to get served, not smoking in public or the way we basically drive around recklessly, cutting from one lane to the other, honking our horns tactlessly and what have you… It’s just too deeply routed!

    i share your skepticism of any government enforcement to have a profound effect beyond the time it takes a goldfish to revolve around its fish-bowl.

    And i do agree, probably the government could adapt one or two things from the private sector, i’ve seen no-smoking (among other things) well-enforced in companies premises effectively without strict fines or such.

    I don’t know why, but if a typical Jordanian smoker walks into say; Zain’s headquarters he would probably put his cig of naturally at the doorstep, if he didn’t, one of the employees will immediately volunteer to point out that he/she should put it off.

    It is an intrinsic issue indeed, i recall once when i first arrived to England, i stepped out of the subway in an over-ground station, the whole subway (tube) system in London is strictly non-smoking with 1,000 pound fine at stake, me being the typical Jordanian (smoker at the time) I’am; figured out that I’m in an over-ground station (mostly open-air) in which the no-smoking sign doesn’t apply or doesn’t make sense in which case it didn’t matter, i just pulled a cig and my friend (a local) jumped me and took the lighter from me as if i was about to light up a bomb or something (pre 9/11 story, otherwise it would have been on the news).

    It’s the way we justify things to ourselves, to park in front of people driveways because we want to “pray”, or smoke in an enclosed place such as a bus, or play music loudly while driving around… we justify and then take action, and gradually the justification becomes subconscious until it becomes habitual and later a norm in an oblivious society like ours… Alas

  • I am a smoker and with smoking restriction laws for public health. Yet, I see that if one chooses to smoke, he/she is entitled to with consideration to others.

    What bugs me, is the total ban of smoking. Many are implementing these smoking-free laws to an extreme, such as not having smoking rooms or keeping smoking rooms dirty as if they do not deserve a clean place because they smoke!

  • I am willing to make dua for this. I can’t wait to go to the mall and come home and not stink like a furnace. I feel so violated every time I am there with everyone just lighting up anywhere and everywhere. InshAllah there will be enforcement. I volunteer to enforce, just give me a stun gun!

  • I think we should distribute folded news papers on non-smokers to hit any one who smokes or violates that clause in the law mentioned in Nas post , just walk by him/her hit them and don’t say a word , with time people that smoke and hurt others and thier loved ones will learn that it is that much irritating …

    Who is with me on the FNP movement…

  • It’s really frustrating I think almost 99.9999 of the population smokes, I hope this works but seems impossible with the ignorance of the smokers.

    I was at the airport the other day to pick a friend and while waiting the auto-programmed announcements came out from the speaker saying “Please note that smoking is prohibited in all areas of the airport” This sentence goes every 15 minutes I think, and I was looking around me … no body give a damn … everyone is smoking! How do you expect this to work?

  • I am not getting enough responses on the FNP movement ,,, I will do more than just blog about it …

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