In a bid to control the effects of tobacco, Dubai has banned pregnant women from entering shisha cafes. Regardless of whether or not a woman intends on smoking inside a shisha cafe, she will be refused entry under a new public service health campaign.
"This is not up for negotiation. The rules are not limited to pregnant women, but also extends to children and toddlers," said Marwan Al Mohammed, Director of the Public Health and Safety Department at Dubai Municipality. "The reason behind launching the campaign was to make it absolutely clear who are, and who are not, allowed in the premises."
Shisha cafes across Dubai can be seen displaying large posters on their doors and windows showing a pregnant woman and a foetus formed out of smoke. A caption on the poster reads: "Smoking is your choice! Not mine." Under the poster, both pregnant women and children are barred entry into the cafes. Through the campaign, the ministry aims to encourage pregnant women and children to sit in a smoke-free environment.
A minimum age of 18 has also been enforced in order to enter the cafes. According to local reports, the age restriction is not new to the cafes, however shops have struggled in the past to enforce restriction.
"Managers have previously complained that for the public's safety and well-being, they have unsuccessfully tried to deny access to pregnant women," said Mohammed, according to a Gulf News report. "But since there were no official rules regarding this matter, the women were able to enter, since it was their right as a customer to enter the premises." Meanwhile, the minimum age to purchase tobacco in Dubai has been set at 20 and above, and smoking zones have been allocated across several public areas.