The proposed blanket smoking ban in all public places in the UAE was a key subject of debate at The Big F&B Forum, hosted by Catering News Middle East on 20 September at Westin Mina Seyahi Dubai.
Dr. Basem Abdul Moneim, public health specialist, National Tobacco Control Programme took to the stage to discuss what the UAE’s impending smoking ban will mean for the F&B industry.
He explained that should a smoking ban come in, F&B outlets will have to create designated smoking areas on outside terraces and balconies, while indoor smoking rooms will not be allowed.
Dr Basem commented: “Up until now, the laws for tobacco control allow smoke-free designation of smoking rooms so we are struggling now to make changes in the by-law article to prevent this designation of smoking rooms or areas inside the building. There are no guarantees that the smoke will not be shifted from the smoking area to the non-smoking. The only guarantee to protect the health of the people is 100% smoke free without exceptions inside the building.
Explaining the rules for designated outdoor smoking areas, Dr. Basem said that there will be strict criteria introduced on this, however these have not yet been clarified to F&B operators.
Dr Basem suggested: “If restaurants have an open area like a balcony or terrace, this can be considered a smoking area if it open. In my opinion, this outside area should not be beside the non-smoking part and not in the way of non-smokers. It should be outside of the restaurant, and should be at least a 40m2 and open air, which doesn’t flow in the direction of the air vents because if wind comes, it will bring smoke inside the closed area.”
Smoking has been a pertinent topic on the agenda for the F&B industry this year following an announcement in May by the National Tobacco Control Committee of the UAE, that it will soon propose an amendment to the law to make all public areas, including bars, restaurants and nightlife venues in the UAE, 100% smoke free.
However, a number of F&B operators are concerned about the challenges a blanket smoking ban could present, while many are confused about what the implementation of the ban would mean from a practical perspective.
Supporting The Big F&B Forum were some of the industry’s most influential suppliers: Al Rawdah, Official Breakfast Sponsor; Coffee Planet, Exclusive Coffee Sponsor; Banvit, Official Lunch Sponsor; Soft Drinks Sponsor, Waterfalls Brands, Support Sponsor African + Eastern and exhibitors, TSSC, Rational, Ronai, Pulsar Foodstuff Trading, Hotelity, American Garden and Quooker.