The Jordanian Ministry of Health has banned all forms of smoking in closed public places as of 1 July, driven in no small part to the coronavirus pandemic.
“In order to protect the health and safety of citizens, especially given the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, smoking of all forms (cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and shisha) is banned in closed public spaces,” per a statement from the health ministry.
The ministry said one reason for the ban is greater occurrences of strong coronavirus symptoms in smokers. Jordan has been rigorous in its efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19, registering 1,169 confirmed cases and 10 deaths as of 8 July.
The ban comes after the Guardian published a report late last month revealing Jordan having surpassed Indonesia with the highest smoking rates in the world.
More than eight out of 10 Jordanian men smoke or regularly use nicotine products including e-cigarettes, according to a government study conducted in 2019 in collaboration with the World Health Organisation. Jordanian men who smoke daily consume an average of 23 cigarettes a day, the WHO survey found. Around 45 percent of Jordanian students aged 15 or under have used some form of tobacco.
Health experts believe Jordan’s high rate of smoking is due to the influence of tobacco companies on regulations in the country.
By economic measures, tobacco taxes make up 18 percent of annual revenues in Jordan. At the end of the first quarter of 2020, Jordanians had spent 1.6 billion dinars ($2.26 billion) on smoking, roughly six percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
An initial ban on smoking cigarettes in enclosed public spaces was introduced in 2008. However, some are skeptical on the enforcement of the new ban because it includes smoking in “fully closed” public spaces.