Iran allows water pipes back into tea houses

AP News
Posted: Nov 17, 2011 4:36 AM
Iran allows water pipes back into tea houses

Iranian newspapers say authorities are allowing water pipes back into tea houses, revoking a smoking ban in place since 2005 when it comes to a favorite Mideast pastime.

The measure by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government is seen as an effort to win more supporters ahead of March parliamentary elections.

Thursday's reports say the new regulation was approved by Cabinet on Wednesday. Tea houses may again offer water pipes to customers but the ban remains in place for other institutions, along with the general ban on smoking in restaurants, parks and other public places.

Water pipes are known as ghalian in Farsi and have been popular in Iran for centuries.

There are some 15 million estimated smokers among Iran's 75 million-strong population.