Dear Lebanese Restaurant Owners “Affected” By The Smoking Ban

For years, you have been making money off my lungs.

For years, you have been forcing me to indirectly gulp down clouds of smoke with whatever I had ordered to eat at your premises.

For years, you made clear efforts at increasing your revenue by introducing various elements of smoking (shisha for instance) that doesn’t even work with most of your menus.

For years, your incessant need to make money in droves has driven your customers in droves to oncologists all over the country.

For years, we’ve put up with your crap. For years, we’ve taken it because we were those whom the law didn’t serve. For years, we suffered and you made money.

But this is unacceptable no more.

I invite you to check this study (click here) which clearly shows a benefit for non-smokers from smoking bans. You obviously don’t care about that because if you did, you wouldn’t have let the situation at your premises stay the way it has been for such a long time.

But that’s not the point. The point is that you want some places to be exempted from the law because it will have an economical effect on them. Clubs, with a smoking ban, would see their business decline apparently.

Would a smoker who likes clubbing suddenly decide not to go clubbing just because he is forbidden from smoking there? No. He would do as any other smoker would: take a mini-break from the dancing and drinking and go smoke a cigarette outside. With the other smokers. Away from my nose and lungs.

Would said smoker be furious at first? Sure, just as any over-indulgent five year old would be once you’ve taken their favorite toy from them. But once they get used to it, they will get over it.

I guess you don’t want that. In Lebanon, a smoker is always right and a non-smoker is always wrong. Things shouldn’t be easy for those who don’t want to smoke. Things should be kept easy for those who want to do so.

But this is not acceptable anymore.

When I was in Paris a few days ago, I was waiting for a table to clear at one of the city’s restaurants when I saw two women walk outside. The hostess asked them: Are you leaving?

They answered: No, we’re just going outside to smoke. And I smiled because that was the first time I had seen that simple act in my life. And I started wondering why can’t we have that in Lebanon as well?

The answer is so evident it doesn’t even need to be illustrated.

It’s high time that Lebanese society – even when it comes to the littlest things such as smoking – stop cutting corners for those who choose to adopt that luxury. And it starts with restaurants.

I invite you to read this little article that I wrote a while back about smoking in Lebanon. It stems from my limited, albeit existent, knowledge in psychology and psychiatry. If your restaurants keep smoking cues available everywhere, then even the harshest of laws cannot reduce smoking rates.

Will the Lebanese smoking ban go into full effect? I seriously doubt – as is the case with any other law in this country. There will be some decent places that will abide by it. Smokers will slowly get used to their favorite places, if any, abiding by the law. But what I can’t stand is a bunch of millionaire restaurant owners worrying about their bottom line.

It’s not their place to worry about the health of their customers, obviously. But I’d rather see a few shisha places out of the few million we have in each neighborhood in Beirut go broke than to see more oncologists hit the jackpot. A little harsh? Perhaps. But drastic measures need to be taken in a country where smoking has become a human right, not a “privilege” as it should be.

The only thing I’d change in the law? Make a cigarette pack $10 and watch the smokers cry.

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8 thoughts on “Dear Lebanese Restaurant Owners “Affected” By The Smoking Ban

  1. $10? Pfft… Average is $20 down under…

    The majority of councils now here have banned smoking in the restaurants, outside the restaurants and in highly populated outdoor areas like cafe/restaurant strips and the like…

    It’s about bloody time they annouced something good for the country!

    Reply
  2. No one is making money off anything. If you don’t like it, don’t come to those restaurants. This should not be forced. People should be given the choice whether or not to ban smoking in their own restaurants and/or privately owned public places.

    Reply
    • Seriously? If left up to them, it will be swept under the carpet… the odds of a restaurant owner actually implementing such rule under their own accord will surely be less than 1% – even that sounds generous!

      Reply
    • Yeah Memento, just let me know which restaurants you own or go to so we all stop going there. Just publish them if you dare to.
      Also, I love your reference to “privately owned public places”: very good one! I guess in your petty mind, it means that if it’s public and piblic-run, then it follows the public (ie government) rule, but if (haha and that’s the good one) it’s PUBLIC, but privately owned, then it’s the private that puts the public rule!!!
      Wow, are you a logical person, or are you another of those senseless people who just want to take advantage and pride themselves of being “lebanese opportunists”: or Shatara!.

      I hope you have children who go to privately owned public places. Maybe you’ll listen to them and learn something when they come back home red-eyed and coughing.

      Reply
  3. LOVE LOVE LOVE what you wrote here. Especially making the pack of cigarettes 10$ and make smokers cry. That should be the first thing to do.
    I’m not a (cigarette) smoker but I do sometimes share shisha with my friends. I think maybe there should be specific places for such activities where we know that we would easily avoid if we don’t want to be dipped in smoke. It would be nice to have a meal smoke-free.
    I love for instance sitting and reading/working at one of Starbucks branches because smoking is not allowed inside. I don’t know how money coffee shops do that too but I’d love to see more places making the smokers feel the humiliation of going out (or in the smoking section) to practice his unwanted habit.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: A Facebook Discussion With a Lebanese MP « A Separate State of Mind | A Lebanese Blog

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