An angry woman smoker turned violent and ransacked a supermarket in Sharjah on Saturday morning after her repeated requests for cigarettes was turned down by the shop’s staff.
Sharjah Police is examining video footage of the damage caused by the young Arab woman customer, thought to be in her 20s.
Selling cigarettes in residential areas is banned in Sharjah and shops violating the ban face a stiff fine. Shops are also not supposed to sell any tobacco products within 100 metres of any religious site and 150 metres of entrances to nurseries, kindergartens, schools and universities.
Speaking to Emirates 24|7, Abdul Salam, owner of Haram Al Madeena supermarket near the Sharjah Clock Tower, said: “We had to close down the shop on Saturday morning due to the unruly behaviour of the woman customer who damaged weighing scales, office equipment, cash machines, cooling equipment, etc.
“She came to the shop around 10.30am on Saturday to buy cigarettes but the sale of cigarettes in residential areas has been banned in Sharjah for the past two months. Many smokers get upset when we turn down their request but this was most violent customer we have faced,” he added.
“Many regular smokers use bad language when they are told that cigarette sale is banned but the violent behaviour of this Egyptian woman was much more than we expected,” said a staffer who was present in the shop during the mayhem.
Staffers closed the shop from outside to trap the violent woman inside before calling the police.
“After the staff told her there is no cigarette on sale, she hung around in the vegetable vending section and returned with a knife, threatening to stab the staff,” said Abdul Salam.
“She was throwing and smashing things on the floor and the action has been captured on the shop’s CCTV. We have handed over a copy of the CCTV footage to the police. We had to lock her inside the shop before calling the cops. Even after police arrived, she was demanding cigarettes. The woman is now in police custody,” Abdul Salam said.
“We have not calculated the total loss but more than Dh40,000 worth of goods and equipment have been damaged. We hope to claim insurance for the damages,” the supermarket owner said.
Sharajah Municipality recently issued circulars to several groceries to immediately stop selling tobacco near schools, inside residential areas, and close to mosques as well as educational and health establishments.
Shops must obtain permits from the authorities for trading in tobacco and ensure all their tobacco products are placed away from children’s items, foodstuffs and sport products.
The shops were also told to make sure that tobacco products are placed farthest from the payment point inside the shop.