x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Smokers 'suffering' after ban

One of the capital's most popular malls yesterday banned smoking in its shops and corridors in line with Government regulations.

Scenes like this are now banned in Abu Dhabi Mall.
Scenes like this are now banned in Abu Dhabi Mall.

ABU DHABI // One of the capital's most popular malls yesterday banned smoking in its shops and corridors as it took the first step towards implementing a blanket non-smoking policy in line with Government regulations. The new rules introduced by Abu Dhabi Mall restrict smoking to cafes and restaurants, forcing some smokers out into the sweltering heat. Smoking has been banned in shops, the food court, service corridors and public toilets.

"I can't lie - it sucks," Suzanne Tahan, who works in the mall's East Tower, said during her first cigarette break near the mall's entrance. Ms Tahan, who has worked in the building for four years, said smokers were "suffering" in the heat. "I didn't see what was wrong with the policy before because we were not smoking in open areas, only where there were ashtrays," she said. "Of course, we preferred smoking in areas where it was air-conditioned."

Abu Dhabi Mall is the second major shopping centre in the city to enforce a non-smoking policy. Al Wahda Mall opened as a smoke-free mall in May 2007 and Marina Mall has banned smoking in retail spaces around Snow World. Abu Dhabi Municipality has announced plans to phase in smoking regulations to boost the capital's image, but it has yet to enforce the ban. Abu Dhabi Mall's marketing executive, Jalal Eido, said: "Very soon, if they want to smoke, they won't be allowed in coffee shops either."

Mr Eido said the mall's management was responding to "big time" complaints in recent months, "especially from pregnant women and mothers". Non-smoking stickers have been posted on all mall entrances and a print campaign by mall management is due to start in August. Abdullah Hamed Azizi, the mall's senior safety and security officer, said: "We understand that people are surprised by these new rules. They are coming step by step, so we cannot push everybody now to stop immediately, but if we find somebody smoking where they are not allowed, we are telling them to go outside."

Mr Azizi said security staff had only encountered a few customers who were reluctant to abide by the ban. @Email:mkwong@thenational.ae