Jordanian authorities are facing several obstacles in encouraging citizens to kick the habit of smoking in public.
Jordan is attempting to enforce a wide-ranging public smoking ban, which bars people from lighting up in a score of public areas, including government buildings, hospitals, schools, airports, shopping malls and restaurants.
The Public Health Law, which was originally passed by parliament in 2009 and endorsed in May by the cabinet, stipulates that any person caught smoking in a public place is subject to between one week and one month imprisonment or a 15-25 dinars fine.
However, health authorities said that the fines and imprisonment have so far failed to sway many Jordanians for whom smoking in public has become second nature.
"People do not accept the law easily," Bassam Hijawi, director of the health promotion and protection department at the Ministry of Health told Al-Shorfa. "We have faced several difficulties while imposing the smoking ban. It is not easy to change people's mentality as smoking here is a social behavior as well as an addiction."
According to Hijawi, the ministry referred 100 violations of the law to courts between May and September.
One of the final sticking points to the law's success is applying it to restaurants and cafes, where many Jordanians and foreigners spend nights smoking argileh (water pipe), a big business for restaurant owners.
"People link having water pipes at cafes to having fun and this is not easy to ban it over night," Hijawi said.
For months, the ministry and restaurant owners went back and forth on the best means to implement the ban, which restaurateurs claimed would cause them financial losses.
Jordan Restaurants Association (JRA) President Zeid Goussous called for a gradual implementation of the ban, saying that banning smoking from eateries would hurt businesses, especially those that serve argileh.
"This ban will hurt many businesses, especially in our country where many people go to restaurants and cafés for smoking water pipe," he told Al-Shorfa. "It will take time before it is implemented. The ban should be introduced over years not out of the blue. People and restaurants owners do not accept this."
Currently, there are designated areas in many restaurants for non-smokers, but under a plan proposed by the ministry, an enclosed section will be designated for smokers.
Mohammad Hasanein, a worker at a café in Amman's al-Rabieh neighborhood, said the ban would translate into economic losses.
"Many people come to the café to socialize and have some drinks; Part of socialising in Jordan is to have water pipe," he said.
"The ban means eventually less customers and less money," he added.
Khalid Daoud, a marketing manager at a private sector company in Amman, called the ban "ridiculous".
"If I go to a café with friends and only order juice, everyone will go home after a short while. Having water pipe makes us stay longer at the café and makes things more interesting," he said.
"It is fine to allocate areas for smokers in restaurants, but not in cafes having water pipes," he said.
But the ministry is standing firm in its goal to rid smoke in public areas, with officials estimating that Jordanians spend around 360 million dinars a year on tobacco products, while smoking-related illnesses cost the country almost the same amount in healthcare and related expenses.
"People across the world follow such smoking ban, why would we be different here?" Hijjawi said.
But according to customers like Daoud, smoking with friends is a habit that is difficult to kick.
"If I can't smoke water pipe, I think I will take up smoking cigarettes," he said.