Hotel and restaurant owners in Lebanon are all fired up after Law 174 went into effect today, banning all smoking within closed environments throughout the country. The law’s year-long implementation process began by gradually ending smoking in educational buildings, hospitals, offices and other public buildings, and culminated today in the official end of smoking in bars, nightclubs and even Nargileh/Shisha cafes.
While this news comes as a relief to non-smokers who suffer from inhaling secondhand smoke, members of the hospitality industry claim the law was poorly drafted and will lead to loss in jobs and profits, as well as corruption.
“We will be starting a strike and [will] shut our businesses ourselves instead of letting the government close them down,” Shebel Abu Shebel, a member of the Restaurant Owners association told MTV television station Saturday.
Pierre Ashkar, the head of the Hotel Owners Association, said that 1,000 Nargileh establishments throughout Lebanon are liable to close down under the new law, putting 10,000 employees out of work.
And Forbes reported in 2009 that in India, at least one smoking ban resulted in a drop in revenue for businesses in the hospitality industry that previously allowed smoking in their establishments.
But non-government organizations citing a similar ban in Turkey claim that the move could actually boost revenues.
Meanwhile, enforcement of smoking bans is difficult in a country where nearly half of male residents smoke.
Since Law 174 was passed one year ago, the National Tobacco Control Program hasn’t been tracking whether fines have been issued to those in contravention of the anti-smoking law, according to the Daily Star.
But if you’re a smoker in Lebanon, don’t get too comfortable. Members of the Tobacco Control Citizen Watch told the paper they’ll be keeping an eye out for violators!
:: Daily Star
Image: man smokes cigarette, Shutterstock