‘I am an olive tree... not an ashtray’

 27 Sep 2016 - 2:54

‘I am an olive tree... not an ashtray’
Jaidah Square officials have posted signs around the olive trees planted in front of their building on Airport Road to caution smokers from extinguishing their cigarette buds there. Authorities have also placed ashtrays around the premises. Pic: Qassim

By Irfan Bukhari / The Peninsula

DOHA: “I am not an ashtray,” is the plea of few olive trees planted outside a shop at the Airport road. The beautiful trees are requesting the smokers not to throw cigarette butts on their beds.
“I am an olive tree. Not an ashtray.” It is the story of smoking in outdoor public places and smokers’ indifferent attitude. This careless behaviour of smokers prompted the shop owner to install a notice on the plant-beds in front of his outlet advising people to avoid mistreating beautiful trees.
The olive trees themselves are a result of the shop owner’s love for flora and his dedication in cultivating them in this unfriendly climate.
“The owner of the shop has special affection for these trees. We were compelled to install these notice-plates on the beds, disappointed with the smokers’ attitude,” an expat employee of the outlet told The Peninsula.
He said that smokers including visitors and employees are not allowed to smoke indoors. Therefore after smoking in open space they used to throw cigarette butts in the bed.  “Now we have placed an ashtray next to plant beds for smokers’ convenience. But still some careless smokers extinguish their cigarettes in the soil of beds,” he lamented. 
It is pertinent to mention here that under Article 10 of the Law No (20) of 2002, smoking is illegal at enclosed public places like means of public transport, schools, educational and training centres, universities, hospitals, health centres and other educational and institutions and health facilities.  Smoking is also prohibited at ministries and other government bodies, organisations, public corporations, sports clubs, societies’ centres and public places, lifts, cinemas and theatres. 
No one can smoke at any industrial establishments, commercial centres, restaurants and other places which sell food or drinks to the public. The current law imposes a fine up to QR500 for smoking in closed public places, and a new anti-tobacco law is in the making proposing stricter punishments.
As smoking is not allowed in closed public places, smokers without any hesitation satisfy their craving for tobacco in open spaces including roads, pedestrian pathways, parks, bus waiting stands etc. 
“The government should also prohibit smoking in open public places and anyone having the habit must only smoke in their closed private places,” said another the employee of the shop. 
Apart from smoking in open public places and some instances of violations at enclosed public places too, Shisha (water-pipe smoking) at some places like Souq Waqif is causing trouble for non-smokers.“As per law these cafes are supposed to reserve at least 50 percent tables for non-smokers but you can see every table has become a shisha table,” said Ahmed, an Egyptian expatriate.
Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) data shows the number of smokers in Qatar is estimated at around 37 percent of the population. The HMC offers a clinic, established in 1999, to help quit smoking. “The number of people who visit the clinic is around 700 annually. We are able to help around 40 percent of them quit smoking. Many types of treatments and psychological consultations are offered as well as replacements for nicotine and medicine,” says HMC website. Several primary health centres have also set up stop smoking clinics as part of a national programme to curb the use to tobacco products in the country.