Syria's president on Monday issued a decree banning smoking in public places, joining an anti-smoking trend already under way in other Arab countries.
President Bashar Assad's decree, which will go into effect in six months, bans smoking in restaurants, cafes, cinemas, theaters, schools, official functions and on public transport. Offenders will be fined 2,000 Syrian pounds - about $45.
Syria had taken steps before to try to restrict smoking, including a 1996 decree issued by Assad's late father, Hafez, that banned smoking in government institutions, hospitals and at the airport.
But the ban was often flouted and not strictly enforced. The younger Assad recently issued a law that banned the sale of tobacco to those under the age of 18.