Deadline for shisha cafes ends

For illustrative purpose only. (FILE)

A deadline for café shops through the UAE to stop serving shisha and all other types of tobacco ends today (December 31)and all of them either have to halt the service or move out of residential areas.

The deadline was in line with a federal law issued in 2009 to ban smoking inside buildings and residential areas as well as in buses and other public transport facilities, and public and closed places.

Under the new law, municipalities will halt giving licences to new cafes while those who opt to stay in residential areas will have to strictly comply with the new rules intended to protect the public health.

Municipality officials in Abu Dhabi said inspectors would make regular visits to those cafes to ensure they abide by the new regulations, adding that offenders would be heavily punished.

Shisha cafes are common throughout the Middle East, offering relaxing surroundings and the chance to smoke a shisha pipe with a variety of aromatic flavours. These cafes are traditionally the retreat of men.

A field study conducted by the Abu Dhabi Health Authority revealed that the smoking population range between 24 and 35 percent in the emirate and among them 29 percent smoke shishas.

The percentage of students who have tried smoking reaches up to about 80 percent, according to a global school-based student health survey in 2010.

The 2998 law also bans import of tobacco and its by-products into the country unless specific standard requirements accredited in the UAE are met.