Combating SMOKING

My sisters and brothers in Islam,
Welcome to a new episode of Sunaa’ al-Hayah (Life Makers).  In the previous episode we spoke about seriousness, and we specified a project to help us free ourselves of the shackle of indifference and triviality.
This project was to raise the slogan: Respect the woman’s body.  No to nudity in the mass media.  The aim was to reject the exploitation of the woman’s body in the mass media.  We all agreed that if anyone of us saw a product, an advertisement, or a video clip exploiting the woman’s body, he should send a message to whoever is responsible for such product or such space channel.  He should confirm his complete rejection for this and that he will boycott such product and such channels.
To be honest, we should mention that we were not the first to launch such a campaign, others preceded us and now we joined them to form a public opinion campaign all over the Arab world.  Ok, now what happened in the past week? I will mention the results of last week’s campaign only to invoke some hope within you and to prove that there is nothing that is impossible.
The campaign results:
  1. The number of letters sent by young men, women and children to channels broadcasting video clips with nudity scenes was about 10,000 letters.  In the forum on the website, you will find the text of sent letters classified under the names of the places to which they were sent to.
  2. Six charity societies contacted me: three from Egypt and three from the Gulf, they all insured that they will undertake the burden of defending the misuse of the woman’s body in the mass media, and dedicate their efforts for that matter.
  3. The Arab singer (Asala) founded a society in France which she named, “Chastity.”   The objective of this society is to fight nudity in video clips.
  4. It was mentioned in the Arabic edition of al-Ahram newspaper on April 8, 2004 that a resolution was issued forbidding the broadcasting of video clip songs which aroused disputes in all Egyptian channels.
  5. The People’s Assembly in Egypt is discussing a draft resolution concerning forbidding the broadcasting of these songs on any channel that is being broadcasted from Egypt.
  6. The head of musical professions syndicate filed lawsuits against women exploiting their bodies in video clips.
  7. The well-known scholar (Abdulwahab el-Messiery) published an article in the international edition of al-Ahram newspaper on April 8, 2004 asking for combating nudity in the mass media.
  8. The artist (Nagah Sallam) launched a campaign inside Lebanon for combating nudity in the mass media.
  9. An advertising agency, which is considered one of the largest in Egypt, decided to change its strategy:  it will not use the woman’s body to propagate commodities, but will use other means.
  10. A British girl claimed that she saw a shameful billboard on one of Britain’s streets.  Consequently, she collected signatures and sent a letter to the British company demanding the removal of the billboard which dishonored women feelings.  Surprisingly, the company sent a letter back apologizing for the billboard and actually removed it.
We had intended to proceed with the talk that we started about respecting the woman’s body but after finding that the matter became a public opinion, we prefer to move on to another issue which is by no mean less important than the issue of respecting the woman’s body.  We’ve been trying to free ourselves of three shackles, we’ve been trying to be; positive, seeking perfection and serious.  Now, we are about to free ourselves of the fourth shackle which is irresponsibility through trying to be responsible enough.  We should hold the responsibility of our country, of Islam, of our homeland and of the whole earth.
You are responsible for the whole earth, for humanity, and for Islam.  You are responsible for reforming and ameliorating conditions on earth, this is what Allah (SWT) has ordained us all to do.
Thus you have six responsibilities:
1.      Yourself
2.      Your family
3.      Your work
4.      Your country
5.      Islam
6.      The whole earth
I swear by Allah the Most Glorious that you will be asked about these six responsibilities.  You may say that you are a young student, that you can do nothing or that you are still young and know nothing.  However, Allah (SWT) will ask you on the Day of Judgment about earth, “What did you do to reform it, why did you not reform even the minor part that you can deal with? Had you succeeded in reforming that part, I would have helped you and assigned you more responsibilities and gradually you would’ve grown.”
Great people who participate in reforming life always carry an idea in their mind since their young age and they aim to fight for that idea.
A life maker sets off at a young age, not at an old age.  Allah says what can be translated as, “I shall create man to be my vicegerent on earth.” (TMQ, 2:30)[1].  This ayah (verse) means that you are responsible for the earth.  All of you will be asked about your country, your religion, about the earth; not only about yourself and your family.
People of Egypt, people of Yemen, people of Saudi Arabia, people of Lebanon, all of you are responsible and you shall be asked for all that you have done for earth.  On the Day of Judgment people will exchange accusations.  Each one shall accuse the other saying, “Oh Allah!  He found me performing wrongdoings and did not inhibit me.”
The following is our aim in freeing ourselves of this shackle (irresponsibility).
We should all be responsible for Islam, for our homelands, for earth, and not only for our families and ourselves.  We shall specify a project that will help us get rid of this shackle.  As I mentioned before, our method in Sunaa’ al-Hayah (Life Makers) is not only listening to sermons and speeches, but strengthening wills, reviving intentions and encouraging people to act actively and positively throughout the week.  The aim is: being responsible.
The project: A project that encourages carrying responsibility.  This project is about combating all narcotics (smoking cigarettes, shisha (hookah), the kat, drinking wines, and drug addiction).
This is our responsibility to which we are entrusted by Allah (SWT).  Allah says what can be translated as, “Truly, We did offer al-Amanah (the trust or moral responsibility or honesty and all the duties which Allah has ordained) to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it (i.e. afraid of Allah’s torment).  But man bore it.  Verily, he was unjust (to himself) and ignorant (of its results).” (TMQ, 33:72).
Imagine yourself on the Day of Judgment and the Prophet (SAWS[2]) is asking you, “What have you rendered to Islam?” You reply, “I performed my prayers and fasted,” and then he would say to you, “I have undertaken the most severe hardships and exerted effort only that you now come to say I performed my prayers and fasted?”
Any girl should imagine herself meeting Sumaiah (the first woman to be martyred in Islam) and being asked by her about what she had rendered to Islam.  The girl might say that she had performed Umra (minor pilgrimage), but Sumaiah will reply saying, “Abu-Jahl stabbed me with the spear and killed me just for you to perform a Umra?”
Any young man should imagine himself meeting the martyr Ga’far Ibn-Abu-Taleb and being asked by him about what he had rendered to Islam.  He might reply, “I performed my prayers and cited the Holy Qur’an.” Ga’far will then reply saying, “My arm was severed while I was defending Islam and holding its banner just for you to do that?”
As for our project this week, it is fighting these five narcotics which threaten the structure of our nation.  Our aim is to reduce the effect of these narcotics on our Arab nations.  None were able to make room for renaissance except after placing restrictions upon these narcotics.
China, for example, did not rise except after combating opium.  Europe awakened only after restricting the drinking of wine on weekends, and after smoking became old fashioned.
Many countries have prohibited shisha smoking.  Some of you might say that the West is also facing these problems, but even this remark has a reply: Europe curtailed the problem but we are doing nothing.  Our governments performed their tasks and stipulated laws but the largest burden is ours.  Let us now agree on the details of the project.
Allah says what can be translated as, “Thus We have made you [true Muslims – real believers of Islamic Monotheism, true followers of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his Sunnah (legal ways)], a moderate (and the best) nation, that you be witnesses over mankind.” (TMQ, 2:143).  This ayah is evidence from Qur’an that on the Day of Judgment we will be witnesses over mankind. How could we do so without bearing the responsibility?  An Orientalist who admires Islam greatly once said, “How wonderful and great a religion is it if only it is supported by true men!”  If only!
In order to lay down the plan of this week:
The aim:
Being responsible
The project:
Fighting the five narcotics (smoking cigarettes, shisha, the kat, drinking wines, and drug addiction)
The task:
We will have a practical homework for fighting each type of narcotics.  We shall start with smoking in this episode.  In the beginning, we will have to face this fact courageously.  A nation that gets into the habit of smoking is an exhausted nation, unable to make life.
Effects of smoking on the health:
Smoking causes about 25 diseases varying between chronic to lethal:
1.      Pharyngeal and mouth cancer
2.      Laryngeal cancer
3.      Esophagus cancer
4.      Lung cancer
5.      Pancreatic cancer
6.      Kidney, ureter and urinary bladder cancer
7.      Cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT)
8.      Coronary artery failure
9.      Dilation of the aorta
10.  Arteriosclerosis
11.  Chronic emphysema
·        These diseases do not inflict only smokers but also people who surround them, those who came to be called passive smokers.
·        A passive smoker is the one who only inhales the smoke raised in the air but he himself does not smoke, and he is to be inflicted with the same diseases that inflict the actual smoker, but the impact is lesser.
·        The statistics of World Health Organization state that the number of deaths resulting from smoking diseases is about 4 million per year.
This number exceeds the number of the deaths caused by the atom bomb dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II; the atom bomb killed only a quarter of a million.
·        The number of deaths resulting from drinking wine and drug addiction is far less than the deaths caused by smoking.
·        In the United States, 400,000 people die annually because of smoking and about 120,000 die because of drinking wine.
·        In Britain, 100,000 people die annually because of smoking.
·        These numbers depict facts related to actual smokers.
·        As for a passive smoker, he is exposed to sudden death as a result of the accumulation of the poisons of smoking which he inhales.
·        The result is graver for children.
·        As for women smokers:
1. In pregnant women, smoking leads to abortion in 60% percent of the cases.
2. The risk of congenital anomalies is 40% percent higher than in non-smokers.
3. The risk of the child’s infliction with chest diseases and allergies is 65% higher.
4. The risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is 50% higher.
5. Premature labor.
6. Giving birth to under weight babies.
7. Incomplete development of lungs.
8. Sudden death of the baby in an early age.
9. Respiratory system and middle ear inflammations.
Oh Allah (SWT)! Do we really hate our children to that extent? Where is the mother who would sacrifice her life for the sake of her children? Is it logical that a mother should reach such a degree of indifference? Where is the father who loves his children or have the fathers become merely a source of producing money? Is it normal for a father to kill his son?
The problem of smoking is embodied in due to the presence of nicotine which is a lethal substance.  Smoking causes more than 4,000 poisonous compounds to be emitted.  As a sort of experiment, a quantity of nicotine was dissolved in some water, a cat was made to drink this water.  The cat died immediately.  For man, it is only a matter of time.  Tobacco companies are giving you that substance in small doses which would not lead to immediate death but a long term one, after 20 years, for instance.  Smoking, and excuse me for using such an example, is like putting the exhaust pipe of a car into your mouth.  I hope you feel the gravity of this example.
Coming to our distressful present in the Arab World:
1. In Lebanon, 3,500 die annually as a result of smoking.
2. In the Gulf, 14,000 die annually as a result of smoking.
3. Twenty-six percent of Egyptians suffer from smoking diseases.
The effects of smoking on the economy:
There are three international companies that almost monopolize the world production of smoking tobacco; mainly American, British and Japanese companies.
  • The total sales of these companies reached $ 88 billion in 1998.
  • Eighty billion cigarettes are being annually consumed in Egypt.
  • The Egyptian government spends $ 3 billion every year on treating diseases caused by smoking.
It is an obvious exhaustion of people’s health and money. It also negatively affects social relations.
  • The Saudi government spent nearly $ 3 billion over the past 25 years on treating Saudi citizens suffering from smoking diseases.
Whose responsibility is it?  What is the way out?  It is our responsibility and we can find our way out of it.
The solution:
  • The number of smokers in the United States decreased by 30 million, in the period (1964–1988).
  • Ten million smokers quit smoking over the past 20 years in Britain.
  • Seventy-one of British citizens are trying to give up smoking.
Here, I will have to pose a hard question which may hurt our sense of dignity.  Do the American and British people have more solid wills? Do they have a stronger sense of determination?
When tobacco companies found out that the percentage of smokers in the West was decreasing, they started to direct their attention towards the Arab world.  Thus, they replaced every Western citizen who quit smoking, by three Arab minors because 52% of the sales rates of such companies are being achieved in the Third World countries, i.e. in our countries.
They targeted children under 18 years of age.  Making use of their lack of deterrent and their lack of responsibility; shops sells cigarettes to kids, parents smoke in the presence of their kids and teachers do not mind to smoke right before their students.  Moreover, all the prominent models of society such as doctors and actors, smoke in public.  This is a summary of the whole problem.  So what do the religious men say about smoking?
The formal legal opinions (Fatawa) :
  1. A Fatwa, issued by the Permanent Committee for Scientific Researches and Iftaa’ in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia delivered by Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ibn-Baz, states, “Smoking and trading tobacco are considered haram(forbidden in Islam) due to their harmful effect, in accordance to the Hadith, of the Prophet (SAWS), which says, “Do not harm yourselves and do not harm others,” for they are classified as harmful substances.”  Allah, in His description to Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), says what can be translated as, “Making lawful for them the good things and prohibiting for them the wicked things.” (TMQ, 7:157).  May Allah (SWT) grant us success.
  1. Fatwa No.1407 issued on 9th Dhu’l–Qa’da, 1396 Hijri, by the Permanent Committee of Researches, says, “No trading of tobacco and the like haram substances (such as shisha), they are all considered haram.” They are harmful substances due to their harm on the human body, soul and money.  If someone wants to give sadaqa(regular charity), go to Hajj (pilgrimage), or spend his money on charity, he should be very careful when choosing the money he wishes to allocate for these purposes.  In accordance to Allah’s saying which can be translated as,“O you who believed, expend of the good things you have earned and of what We have brought out for you from the earth, and do not have recourse to the wicked of it for your expanding, and you would not take it (yourselves) except you close an eye on it.” (TMQ, 2:267).  Also, in accordance to the Hadith of the Prophet (SAWS), “Allah is good and would not accept but the good things.” May Allah (SWT) grant us success.
  1. Fatwa of the former Grand Mufti of Egypt Nasr Farid Wasil, “Smoking is legally prohibited by Islam.”  The Egyptian House of Iftaa’ (Dar al-Iftaa’), has issued  a fatwa absolutely forbidding smoking, in which it stated the following reasons, “Modern science has made it obvious that smoking tobacco has harmful effects on the human being, and for the damaging effects smoking has on the smoker himself and on the people surrounding him.” Also for the wasting and squandering of money which is also prohibited by Allah (SWT), as He says what can be translated as, “And do not kill yourselves (nor one another).  Surely Allah has been Ever-Merciful to you.” (TMQ, 4:29).  Allah  also says what can be translated as, “And do not cast yourselves by your (own) hands into perdition, and do fair deeds.  Surely Allah loves the fair-doers.” (TMQ, 2:195).  Therefore, smoking is absolutely haram according to Islam.
That was the religious and scientific opinion, so what about ours?
We will translate our opinion into a comprehensive project to eliminate the effects of smoking in our Arab nation; we are all going to be responsible for accomplishing this goal.  What are the details of the project?
The experience of the West in minimizing the number of smokers:
I have studied the western experiences which were carried out in the United States and Britain and which finally resulted in decreasing the number of smokers by 10 million smokers in Britain and 30 million smokers in the United States.  The following points demonstrate these experiences:
  1. They stopped cigarette commercials from appearing on T.V (this was also tried out in some of the Arab countries), but they did not reach a satisfactory result by that attempt.
  2. They assigned 40% of the cigarette package for writing phrases like, “Smoking can be deadly” or for placing photos of deformed children, yet that too did not help much in reducing the percentage of smokers.
  3. They raised the customs tariff imposed on cigarettes, but the percentage of smokers remained the same.
They found that this matter is mainly psychological, because the tobacco companies started their initial propaganda through spreading the image of the male smoker as more handsome and more appealing to women.  On the other hand, they implied that the female smoker would seem like she’s enjoying an increased sense of freedom, beauty and attractiveness.  That is how smoking spread since then and up until now. Furthermore, they had a false claim that cigarettes help people concentrate more and think better and of course the opposite is true.
Thus, the West has lunched a successful counter-campaign.  This campaign addressed the smoker stating that, “You have the right to smoke but you have no right to harm the others by your smoke.” Consequently, it started gradually changing the image that the tobacco companies implemented in the minds of smokers, i.e. that smoking adds more attractiveness to smokers.  Hence, smokers started feeling isolated from the others.
The West also started to pass laws aiming at minimizing the smoking habit, most of which already exist in our Arab countries, such as:
  1. The prohibition of smoking in public areas.  Thus the employee smoker would be forced to go out of the company premises in very cold weather to smoke because smoking is prohibited inside the building.
  2. Smoking in the governmental agencies cannot be anywhere else but in the toilets.
  3. Smoking rooms in the airports were made out of glass so that others can watch smokers lock themselves in such a room to smoke.  This was humiliating enough because it made them feel like being trapped in a cage.
  4. The prohibition of smoking on board of aircrafts even during long flights which may take up to12 hours.
  5. They allocated smoking areas at the restaurants near the kitchen and in the toilets.
The West managed to solve the problem and eliminate smoking; their will was strong enough to do it.  Oh Glorious Allah(SWT)!  We are the Muslims and we have the Qur’an as our holy book but we do not have such a strong will!  Allah(SWT) has blessed us with a holy month every year to train us on strengthening our will; that is the month of Ramadan.
One day, I happened to have a conversation with a western man, he told me, “You Muslims are blessed with a great religion that can train you and enhance your sense of determination, you also have a holy book where you can find all the means needed to strengthen your will and your sense of responsibility but you do not follow its instructions.”
The tobacco producing companies in their turn lunched a new counter-campaign where they used celebrities of society; doctors, actors and university professors, but their attempts were encountered by great disdain.  People began to send thousands of letters to these celebrities to stop this campaign because it hurt them, as such people are considered to set examples to others and thus they should not be used in such campaigns.
The students in their schools started to learn to ask their parents to stop smoking in their presence, so parents had to smoke outside the house or in bathrooms in order not to hurt their children’s feelings and it worked out.
This leads us to our project which carries the motto, “No for the smoking that harms others.” In other words, it is time for you as a passive smoker to take action.  This is your right, not only your right but it is granted by the force of law.  A number of Arab countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have already passed laws to prohibit smoking in public areas.
The laws which are introduced in Egypt include:
  • Law No.52 for the year 1981 prohibits smoking in public areas and in means of transportation.
  • Law No.137 for the year 1981 stipulates punishing those who smoke in public areas.
  • Law No.4 for the year 1994 prohibits smoking in public areas and imposes fines on those who smoke inside means of transportation up to L.E. 50; this law also imposes a fine ranging between L.E 1,000 to L.E 20,000 on managers who allow smoking in their working premises.
Therefore our mission is to refuse to be passive smokers, to fight for our right to breathe fresh air and to refuse giving up our share of responsibility.
Our planned project will go as follows:
·        Not to allow smoking in public areas.
·        To inform every smoker of our right to breathe fresh air.
·        To try to prevent parents from smoking in the presence of their kids.
What you should do is write this phrase on a piece of paper, “Do not harm me with your smoke.”  We have to put this paper everywhere; in work places, at home, in schools, universities, buses, in the entrances of buildings and at weddings.  For example, if you find the bus driver smoking, ask him to stop the bus because it is forbidden by law and if he refuses, tell him that this is your right and that you will file a complaint against him. But in private places, where you can not do that, you will only have to give a piece of advice.
The western governments passed laws, but it’s the people, having a sense of responsibility, who put these laws into action.  Likewise, our Arab governments introduced laws and it is our responsibility to put them into force.  We have to move politely and strongly and strength does not mean violence here. Our points of strength are; we have the right, Islamic Fatawa as well as scientific opinions.  Thus, we should do the following:
  • We will put up the paper with our motto, “Do not harm me with your smoke.”
  • We will talk to whoever we can talk to and try to convince them to give up smoking.
  •  As for company owners, try to allocate a smoking room for smokers and if this is not feasible, prevent smoking inside your company and let the smokers smoke outside the premises.
Just imagine when the children see the smoker treated like an untouchable thing and having to smoke his cigarette in the most inappropriate places.  They will definitely change their opinion on smokers.  This way these children will grow up with the idea that smoking is a bad, harmful and a detestable habit.  I feel that the word “detestable” is a very cruel word.  I’d rather get them to feel that we wish them to protect us from the harmful effects of smoking.  Why are people so keen on imitating the West? Why do we only imitate their bad habits and not benefit from their good habits?
The helping tools:
  • There is a tape under the name, “A message to all smokers.”  You can download it from the site,, and give it to your smoking acquaintances.  The health ministries of many of the Arab countries will distribute this tape in health centers to stimulate the awareness against smoking.
  • You will also find a written message for all smokers, print it and give it to all the smokers whom you know.
  • The laws that are passed in the Arab countries against smoking are available on the site.
  • The Fatawa prohibiting smoking, issued by Egyptian and Saudi religion men are also available on the site.
I think that you do not have anymore excuses now.
Dear brother and sister, you have to take your part of the responsibility.  Just like Hind- Bint-Utba when she consolidated Muslims in el-Yarmouk battle; she blocked the withdrawal way of the Muslims from the battle and scolded her husband Abu-Sufyan saying that he had to redeem his sins when he used to fight the Prophet (SAWS).  Also, Khawla Bint-el-Azwar who, after the martyrdom of her brother Darar in el-Yarmouk battle, dressed like a man, covered her face, rode her horse, rushed into the battle and fought bravely.  All Muslims thought she was Khaled Ibn-El-Waleed but then they realized they were wrong as they saw Khaled sitting among them.  After the battle ended Khaled met her, recognized her and asked her why she did that.  She answered, “How can Islam be defeated while I am still alive?” At this moment one of the Muslims said, “What a bad Qur’an keeper I am!”, as he was one of the Qur’an memorizers.  Abu-Bakr once said, “How can Islam be degraded while I am alive?”
Before I reach the end of this episode, I would like to confirm that all the facts I mentioned about smoking cigarettes apply to smoking shisha too.  Moreover, the shisha is more dangerous as one shisha stone equals 55 cigarettes.   Shisha smoking is one of the main causes of bladder and mouth cancer.
Not long in the past, nearly 15 years ago, shisha smokers were regarded as bad people of very law social standard and no one liked dealing with them.  However, today shisha smoking has become a fashion among both sexes of all social classes.  The real problem of shisha, apart from smoking problems, is that it is a center around which the unemployed, lazy and idle people gather.  It is a center around which illegal deeds and people, with high courage to commit sins, gather.  Many shisha smokers discovered that they started getting addicted to drugs after beginning with smoking shisha.
Furthermore, society regards the female shisha smoker as an ill mannered woman. Shisha smoking also ruins social life, as several problems were noted to surface once husbands would start to smoke it.
Thus, we have to say: No to smoking shisha and take it as something focal in our lives.  No to smoking shisha in our families.  No to smoking shisha among our friends.  What can we do?
We have to follow the same pattern we will use for fighting cigarette smoking. Do not mislead yourself by claiming that shisha smoking is just an abhorred habit. The Prophet (SAWS) says, “Beware of trivial sins, they accumulate till they become huge and lead to your very end.”  You can use the same helping tools used for fighting cigarette smoking. In addition to that, you will find a questionnaire on the site.  Send it to shisha smokers to be able to start a dialogue with them.
The Questionnaire:
1.      Do you think that shisha smoking is more harmful to health than cigarette smoking?
2.      Do you think that shisha smoking is part of our heritage or a sort of ill-behavior we got used to?
3.      Do you think smoking shisha is a lawful or an unlawful deed?
4.      Do you think that shisha negatively affects your social life?
5.      Do you think that smoking shisha affects the society’s opinion regarding female smokers?
So, we have to spread this questionnaire among shisha smokers, collect the results, and send them to the site.  We also have to distribute the tape and the letter addressing smokers, among the smokers themselves.  We as youth, men, women, and children, we as a nation have to carry this responsibility.
I hope I‘ve delivered the message.
source: dar al tarjama article by  Amr Khaled

[1] TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the Qur’an.  This translation is for the realized meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah: Ayah) of the Qur’an.  Reading the translated meaning of the Qur’an can never replace reading it in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.
[2] Sala-llahu Alahi Wa Salam = All Prayers and Peace of Allah be upon him.

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  7. theCall says:

    Water pipe ban lights up Jordan’s smokers

    Health aspects

    “It’s a shame for an educated generation to argue” on behalf of smoking, said Faten Haddad, a co-founder of the NGO Smoke Free Jordan. “If you want to smoke, stay away from others and don’t harm them.”

    From the archives: Egypt attempts crackdown on shisha
    [04 December 2009]

    According to a report by the King Hussein Cancer Centre on tobacco use in Jordan, 55 percent of men and eight percent of women above the age of 18 use tobacco, primarily smoking cigarettes. Meanwhile, 83 percent of Jordanians are exposed to second-hand smoke in social situations.

    Larissa Aluar, another co-founder of Smoke Free Jordan, explained that what makes argileh so dangerous to public health is the toxic combination of social acceptability and a lack of awareness about its health effects.

    Among youth, “smoking [cigarettes] is not accepted, while smoking shisha is,” she said. The most recent Global Youth Tobacco Survey, from 2009, found that, among Jordanian middle schoolers, 15.6 percent of girls and 27.1 percent of boys smoked shisha, but only 11 percent of boys and girls smoked cigarettes. The average argileh session lasts one hour and is said to be the equivalent of smoking 100 cigarettes.

    “Tobacco does not build economies. It cripples them,” said Aluar, suggesting that, instead of looking at the economic losses from banning argileh, people ought to consider its costs in healthcare and lost productivity.

    At noon in a dimly lit argileh cafe, 40-year-old Awni Khateeb drew deeply on the long tube connected to an argileh – double apple, his favourite flavour – as the water in the hookah’s bowl gurgled.

    The owner of a building supply store, he visits the same coffee shop almost daily to smoke argileh. He estimates he smokes three times a day for an hour each time and spends about $4.25 to $7 per day on his habit, whether at home or in a cafe.

    He opposes the ban: “Where will we go to smoke argileh?”


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