Call for stricter enforcement of ban on smoking in Oman

Oman Saturday 23/January/2016 20:41 PM
By: Times News Service
Call for stricter enforcement of ban on smoking in Oman

Muscat: A section of the public has called, through social media, that the recent government decision on issues, such as a ban on smoking in enclosed areas and selling fish outside markets, should be enforced strictly.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries had banned vendors from selling fish outside the market premises earlier this year, while the Muscat Municipality had banned smoking in enclosed areas.
Ahmed Al Sawafi, a resident of Khuwair confirmed that individual fish vendors were still selling fish in public areas, such as Khuwair. “They are still selling it in front of the government officials. I wonder why the government has become silent on such violations,” said Al Sawafi.
He added that the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries must not only depend on reports relayed by the public, but also assemble a team to follow up the practice of such decisions.
On the other hand, a national working in one of the big hotels in Muscat said the hotel he worked at had violated some of the restrictions enforced by the Muscat Municipality relating to smoking in closed areas.
“One of the regulations was to place an ashtray at a distance from the entrance and completely ban it inside enclosed spaces. At the hotel, the management had adhered to the Municipality direction for the first three months, but they later placed the ashtray back near the main entrance of the hotel,” said the national.
He added that due to his employment in the hotel industry, he had noticed that some of the clubs still allowed smoking in some areas of enclosed pubs. Such hotels did not care about the rules, as their hours of operation were usually late in the night and nobody from any government unit is expected to show up without notice.
A reliable source at the Muscat Municipality said the Municipality represented by the Health Affairs Directorate always followed up on the implementation of its directives. “The directorate does not only rely on public reports, but carries out regular inspections,” said the source.
He added that sometimes decisions are taken by joint teams from different government units and that the supervision of these inspections does not fall under the Municipality’s responsibilities, but other ministries or authorities.
The Muscat Municipality has been fining offenders OMR100 to OMR300 for violating the smoking ban.
Smoking is already banned on all public transport and in all enclosed areas, including government premises, health centres and hospitals, clinics and dispensaries, educational institutions, industries, commercial centres and markets, restaurants and coffee shops and clubs.
Recently, the Muscat Municipal Council suggested it being banned even in open public places. A member of the council told the Times of Oman that the decision was still under consideration by the concerned authorities and is expected to now cover the whole Sultanate, and not only Muscat.