I honestly couldn’t believe the indoor smoking ban was actually working in Lebanon. Of course, it’s Lebanon and the law will never fully be implemented, especially by the folks we pay to implement them. But, I’ve been happy to gauge that people themselves are sort of monitoring the law, with smokers stepping outside for their fix and letting everyone else be.
Again though, we are talking about Lebanon and corruption is never too far from accomplishment (which btw is 7 years late, as it should’ve been ratified in 2005). This time, it was pride of the nation Antoine Zahra who proposed amendments to the indoor smoking ban.
He said he wants “designated areas” for smokers. Given Zahra’s CV of being a militiaman, I forgive him for not understanding the concept of how gases fill an entire container they are in. So, if two tables across is the smoking section, you’ll still get the adverse effects.
Another, in his mind, incentive, was that it would “get taxes to the treasury”. Well Mr. Zahra, that should never come before people’s health. And if he’s so economical, I’m sure he would’ve calculated that the health bill from smoking far outweighs any tax incomes his amendments would make.
Also, it is becoming clearer and clearer that some folks are pushing for a special brand of “ventilators” that would be allowed to circumvent the ban. Of course, one of our beloved politicians would get the exclusive rights to import these “sophisticated systems” and thus, force everyone to buy it from him for a very, very absurdly high premium.
Remember the fire extinguisher fiasco a few years back? When it turned out the “wakele” was shared by two prominent political faction supporters, and they forced us all to buy them? That’s what Zahra and his friends are trying to do, and the misinformation goes even more rude by suggesting that somehow, the closure of Buddha Bar, an iconic club in Down Town Beirut, had anything to do with the smoking ban.
Might I remind you it’s a miracle this place is still open? It’s massive, and in the worst location possible. Protests, clashes, sit-ins, bombs, etc. This place has seen it all, and despite all this, it survived and flourished. But, at one point, like all of us, it got sick of Lebanon and the prospect of zero hope, and I fully understand and respect their decision.
As for the vehement fight of Lebanese restaurants to this law, allow me to thank those who abided by it fully. And allow me to point to the rest that in no study, ever, anywhere, did enforcing a ban cause adverse reactions to business. In fact, it usually increased business as folks with asthma or who hate smoke, could now go to those restaurants. As for shisha bars, they already are using loopholes in the law by taking off a wall or half a roof, so why all the fuss?
As for the economic situation in Lebanon being shit, yes, it is. Why? Because our only flourishing sector, the banking one, is being pummeled with virus after virus, scandal after scandal. And if this continues, I really have no idea how the economy can still stand…