Iran Bans Use Of Hookas in Holy City Of Qom

Iranian courts banned the use of hookah water pipes in public in the holy city of Qom and northern province of Alborz, in a fresh crackdown on smokers, media reported Thursday.

“Consuming tobacco or using hookah pipes are forbidden in coffee houses, traditional eateries, restaurants, cafes, hotels, hostels, parks and all other public places,” prosecutor Mehedi Kahe said, semi-official news agency ISNA reported.

Kahe said the ban set to be made public in the next few days was taken on health grounds and warned that any establishments breaking the rules will be shuttered. In the northern province of Alborz that neighbors Tehran, the public prosecutor said: “The police will close all establishments that serve hookahs.”

Haji-Reza Shakarmi said smoking in all its forms was prohibited in public places in the province. “The law is in force and all institutions have to comply,” he said, quoted by the Mehr and Tasnim news agencies. Smoking tobacco in public places, except for in the street, has been officially forbidden in Iran since 2006, but the measure is often violated.

In 2008, the government reversed a plan to ban hugely popular hookah pipes in traditional coffeehouses after protests by owners who complained it would deprive them of the vast bulk of their income.

The city of Qom, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Tehran, is a major Shiite theological center and one of the most conservative cities in Iran. According to the latest World Health Organization figures, some 20 percent of men and 0.6 percent of women among Iran’s population of 80 million smoke every day.

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