Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Apathy Nation

I stopped at shop in the morning to buy some juice and biscuits for the office. While I was there a kid of about sixteen came in and lifted a single finger to the shop keeper. The shop keeper reached under his desk and got out a single cigarette from a pack and gave it to the kid. The kid paid and was out in no time enjoying his morning smoke before school. This scene repeats almost every time I stop at one of these shops.

This time, I asked the shopkeeper, "I thought you're not allowed to sell single cigarettes".
He instantly replied "he's light smoker, better he buys a single cigarette than a pack," like he's doing the kid a favor by selling him the smoke.

I smiled to the guy, didn't want to intimidate him, and asked "wasn't there a law a couple years ago prohibiting the sale of cigarettes to kids under 18?"

"Yes of course," he says, and points to a sign on the wall behind him that says "We don't sell cigarettes to under 18's". A nice fancy sign - incidentally printed and distributed by the tobacco lobby in the gulf.

"But that kid's under 18!"
"No, no.. he's over 18. He must be on his way to college right now."

There you go, Oman strikes again. Yet another law that resides strictly on the books. Nobody even knows who's supposed to enforce the antismoking law. They announced the law. Made a big fuss about it for a day. And then they forgot about it.

Smoke when you're young. Drink when you're under age. Drive under the influence every single day if you want. Just don't break the speed limit. That's the only law they enforce. And I guess if they didn't have camera radars they wouldn't have enforced that one either.

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