To say I’m excited about a smoking ban in Lebanon would be an understatement. I remember when I got the news via twitter while at a museum in Madrid last summer. I felt the need to share with anyone who’d listen, Lebanese or not.
What I didn’t think, however, was that one year later – as the ban is starting to come into effect – I’d actually see people vehemently against it, complaining about how the law is a violation of their rights, nagging about a state that can’t but feel powerful against those who are weak.
They don’t give us electricity, they don’t give us security, they don’t give us proper transportation, they don’t give us water, they don’t give us social security, they don’t provide decent healthcare…. What gives them the right to take smoking away from me?
That is literally what I heard yesterday by more than one Lebanese smokers. The sad part? A few non-smokers agreed with them as well. I’m fairly certain they are not the only ones. Some people are already proud about smoking in places covered by the ban. I literally just saw a few doing so.
And as I’m typing this, MTV is reporting that some restaurant owners have decided to close their places in protest on the smoking ban.
Yes, let’s complain about losing money if the ban goes into effect. Then let’s close down, lose the money and tell them all: ta-daaa!
And that is my friends impeccable Lebanese logic where A, despite it having absolutely nothing to do with B, somehow becomes perfectly correlated with it.
Why would anyone mix together the issues of electricity, the arms of Hezbollah, the Mekdad military wing, burning tires and people not admitted into hospitals with a smoking ban?
I, for one, have no idea. And as I tried to explain exactly how non-sequitur this sounded, the conversation volume was raised by more than a few notches. When you don’t make sense, start shouting. Oddly enough, this reminds me of more than a few Lebanese politician. It seems to be genetic.
And then you have those “panicking” about the sector losing 2600 jobs because smokers will somehow, in another piece of flawless logic, stop going out to eat and party and drink. Of course the syndicate of Lebanese restaurant owners doesn’t really care about people losing their jobs. It cares about its business decreasing because they can’t make easy money off selling overpriced shisha.
And when you try to tell people exactly how silly that sounds, they reply that non-smokers can go to non-smoking places. Which non-smoking places are they talking about? I have absolutely no idea whatsoever. In a country like Lebanon, no business dares to be solely no smoking. And those who do are in a different league of competition. Why? Because smokers will refuse to go there. But when all restaurants are non-smoking, either the entirety of Lebanon’s smokers will become isolationists who don’t venture out of their homes as the syndicate is suggesting or the syndicate of Lebanese restaurant owners is only worried about its bottom line losing one of its sources.
I’m sure it’s the latter. They want you to think it’s the former. And to that effect, they’ve made fancy infographics and whatnot.
What their logic is obviously lacking is simply looking at countries that have enforced smoking bans and noticing how their restaurant sectors didn’t suddenly go bankrupt and didn’t suffer. People get used to it. But they don’t want change. They love the status quo where your food is served mixed with cigarette ash.
No. One simply doesn’t take smoking from Lebanese smokers peacefully. One doesn’t simply start a law with the country having any other problem whatsoever. Today they nag about the electricity. If the electricity gets fixed, they’ll nag about Beirut lacking a subway system. When/if we end up getting a subway system, they’ll nag about our lack of nuclear energy. And the excuses will keep coming.
Simply put, some smokers and restaurant owners have one thing to say to you: f*ck you and your overly sensitive lungs.