Riham's Blog


Rant: Lebanese reactions to smoking ban

I’ve been told by some very wise people that I should stop caring about Lebanon now that I’m outside of it. Unfortunately, I can’t exactly do that, and use blogs and news reporting sites to know what’s going on as long as it’s not related to politics.

This is why I was really happy to read about the smoking ban. Then I read an article on NowLebanon stating the reactions of people to this law, and I am seriously disgusted. I know this article is not representative to the population of Lebanon, but something tells me the reactions stated in it are really common. Reactions such as:

  • This ban violates the freedom of smokers. – If you had any common sense at all, you would realize that what you’re stating is that you’ve been violating the freedom of non-smokers for years. Since I’ve lived in Lebanon long enough, I know my typical-Abed will reply to this by saying non-smokers are free to not smoke, a statement I won’t even bother replying to because everyone knows about second-hand smoking.
  • I’ve been smoking for a long time, I’m not going to stop now! – Then it’s a good thing that no one is asking you to stop. We’re just limiting where you can do it so that you don’t violate people’s rights to breath clean air.
  • There are more important issues that the government can deal with! Like internet, electricity, weapons, road safety! – Every time a new law passes in Lebanon, this is the statement that drives me the most crazy. We have a lot of problems, yes, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t deal with anything. The bigger problems listed above require more time, effort and most importantly resources, so let’s start with what we can do now. If anything, change can start with you. It’s true that it sucks how easily you can get weapons in Lebanon, and that it’s something the government should deal with, but until then, how about you don’t shoot up the air every time your worshipped leader makes a speech or your dear son passes an exam that requires the IQ of a peanut (AKA Brevet)? It’s true that our roads are not safe, that car accidents are a big issue, but until this is fixed, wear the damn seatbelt, don’t drive through a red light, and for the love of god, respect your fellow citizen and don’t blind them just because you have a big car and you can!
  • This will harm my business, there’s nothing better than drinking and smoking at the same time, how will people drink – To that I have one thing to tell you: I live in Ireland. People smoke outside in the cold weather all year round. People are also drunk by 9pm. Your business will live.
And finally…
  • Whatever, no one is going to follow that law anyway – Unfortunately, this is actually something I’m scared of. But the fact people take it for a given upsets me. We keep bragging about how our country is “[Insert name of European city here] of the Middle East”, and yet we don’t want to embrace the good laws that these cities have been following for a long time now. I don’t want this law to be respected as much as the “No smoking in the airport” is, where everyone still smokes.
I never believed in some things until I left Lebanon. I always thought “noise pollution” was a made up expression until I lived in a city where cars very very rarely honk. I never understood the usefulness of a smoking ban until not only I left Lebanon, but came back and noticed the difference as I wondered why it was suddenly stinky as my friend lit up a cigarette in a coffeeshop.
This law is as important to me as faster internet or 24/7 electricity. Let’s hope my fellow Lebanese break their trend of disappointing behavior.
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