Owners of shisha shops accused of profiteering

Shisha smokers are up in arms here because coffee shop owners are now charging them SR6 extra for disposable plastic tubes for the mouthpieces of their pipes because of fears over the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

They say that this disposable tube was optional and free previously and that shop owners are using the MERS outbreak to rip them off.

Many said that this is the first time that they heard about the possibility of MERS being spread through shisha pipes. If this was the case, then it also revealed how poorly the Health Ministry has tackled the situation, they argued.

Saad Al-Qahtani, a shisha smoker, said this decision was unfair because it appears that coffee shop owners were raising the cost of pipes without any advisory from the Health Ministry.

He said a shisha pipe now costs SR46 for less than one hour. He called on the Ministry of Commerce to force coffee shops to distribute these plastic mouthpieces for free.

Fawaz Al-Yafni, a customer, said he would rather smoke shisha at home because cafe owners were manipulating the situation to make money.

The mayor of Alkhobar has rejected rumors that the municipality ordered coffee shops to only use disposable mouthpieces on shisha pipes, which was optional and free in the past.

In a statement, he said that owners were trying to make money out of the MERS outbreak. However, the municipality had not launched any plan yet to inspect these shops.

A Ministry of Commerce source said shisha coffee shops are the responsibility of municipalities and secretariats. He said anything to do with health issues, including the sale of hand sanitizers and disinfectants, was the responsibility of the Health Ministry.





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