COVID-19 and beyond: banning tobacco and e-cigarettes in public places is a public health must

There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke

Following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, 15 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region took a bold decision to ban waterpipe use temporarily in public places. This is in addition to the two countries that had already banned it previously, making the total number of countries that have banned waterpipe use in public places 17. Waterpipe use was identified as a possible means for the spread of COVID-19 due to its communal use, which involves the sharing of a single mouthpiece and hose, and customary use in social gatherings, which makes physical distancing impossible. The ban was strictly implemented, and violations were minimal due to active national inspection systems in different countries that monitor implementation. As countries now move towards less strict measures to control the spread of COVID-19, it is important to consider maintaining the ban on tobacco and waterpipe use, and e-cigarettes in all public places for public health reasons.

WHO recommends that countries comprehensively ban smoking in all indoor public places, and in other public places where possible [1], in line with Article 8 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and its Guidelines, as well as the MPOWER tobacco control policy package.

Read more: World Health Organization