Syria timeline. (41.5% adult male smoking) Within a year of introducing a comprehensive smoking ban, the Syrian conflict erupted.
Assad decrees Syria smoking ban
12 October 2009
Syria’s president has issued a decree banning smoking inside cafes, restaurants and other public spaces.
The decree also outlaws smoking in educational institutions, health centres, sports halls, cinemas and theatres and on public transport
Syria smoking ban enters into force
21 April 2010
Syria has become the first Arab state to implement a ban on smoking in public places, such as restaurants and cafes.
The decree also outlaws smoking in educational institutions, health centres, sports halls, cinemas and theatres and on public transport.
Workers must not smoke during meetings and businesses need to provide well-ventilated areas for smokers.
The restrictions include the nargile, or hubble-bubble pipe, which is popular among locals and tourists.
The decree was signed last November by President Bashar al-Assad, a qualified medical doctor.
According to the official news agency SANA, fines for violating the ban range from 500 to 100,000 Syrian pounds (US$11 to $2,169).
Syria rocked by massive unrest
The Associated Press Posted: Mar 25, 2011 5:58 AM ET
Troops opened fire on protesters in cities across Syria and pro- and anti-government crowds clashed in the capital’s historic old city as one of the Mideast’s most repressive regimes sought to put down nationwide demonstrations Friday demanding reform.
The upheaval sweeping the region definitively took root in Syria as an eight-day uprising centred on a rural southern town dramatically expanded into protests by tens of thousands in multiple cities. The once-unimaginable scenario posed the biggest challenge in decades to Syria’s iron-fisted rule.
Protesters wept over the bloodied bodies of slain comrades and massive crowds chanted anti-government slogans, then fled as gunfire erupted, according to footage posted online. Security forces shot to death more than 15 people in at least six cities and villages, including a suburb of the capital, Damascus, witnesses told The Associated Press. Their accounts could not be independently confirmed.
Bashar’s crackdown on protests in March 2011 sparked the current civil war.
Turkey‘s strongman Recep Erdogan introduced a smoking ban in 2009. (51% adult male smokers)
When Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressed a meeting of the National Tobacco Control Programme in December 2007, he didn’t mince words. “Struggling against the use of tobacco products has become as important as our counter-terrorism struggle,” he told an audience assembled in the lobby of Ankara’s Sheraton Hotel. Those products, he said, “are literally murdering our future generations”.
As a non-smoker Erdoğan was, at the time, in the minority of Turkish men. According to a government survey of tobacco use conducted in 2006, some 33% of adults were daily smokers, including just over half of all men and approximately 16% of women aged 18 and over.
Turkey’s government is setting up a 4,500-strong team to help enforce an upcoming no-smoking ban in bars, restaurants and coffeehouses in this country of heavy smokers, a Health Ministry official said Thursday.
On July 19, a year-old ban on indoor public smoking will be widened to include bars, restaurants, and even smoky, hazy village coffeehouses and hookah bars, despite protests from owners who fear it will bring ruin to businesses already suffering from the effects of an economic crisis. The ban already covers offices, public transport and shopping malls….
Davut Kaya, the owner of a smoke-filled coffeehouse in Ankara’s Dikmen neighborhood, says he fears for his business.
“Ninety percent of my customers are smokers. They come here to get rid of their stress by smoking and playing cards. I cannot see them going outdoors to smoke every 10 minutes. They will stop coming here,” he said.
“There’s no way I’m going to stop smoking,” 64-year-old Turan Akdeniz, a self-declared chain-smoker intervened, looking up from his game of Rummy. “I’d rather stay at home than stop.”
World | August 18, 2009, Tuesday
Hundreds of Turks have taken to the streets of Ankara to protest against a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants which was brought in last month.
Many of the protesters are cafe owners who say the ban is hurting trade and want smoking to be allowed in special areas of their establishments.
The government banned smoking in most enclosed public spaces in May last year and extended the ban last month, the BBC reported.
Turkey has 20 million smokers but polls suggest most people support the ban. Turkey aspires to become a member of the EU, and the ban brings the country into line with most EU countries.
Anyone caught lighting up in a designated smoke-free area faces a fine of USD 45.
On Tuesday about 1 000 protesters gathered in a park outside the health ministry buildings with brightly colored banners daubed with slogans and, inevitably, many cigarettes.
Lebanon, which was torn by civil war from 1975 to 1990 (46% adult male smoking)
Lebanon smoking ban takes effect, sparking anger
By Rana Moussaoui (AFP) – Sep 3, 2012
BEIRUT — A smoking ban in all closed public spaces, including coffee shops, restaurants and bars, went into force in Lebanon on Monday under new legislation that promises hefty fines for lawbreakers.
In a country considered a “smokers’ paradise,” the law took effect a year ago in airports, hospitals and schools, but took hold on a wider basis on Monday, also banning tobacco advertisements criticised for luring youths into the habit.
Smokers caught lighting up in a closed public space face a $90 penalty, while restaurant or cafe owners who turn a blind eye to offenders could be fined anything from $900 to $2,700.
The number of smokers in Lebanon is among the highest in the region and cancer-related illnesses directly linked to tobacco are rising at a rapid rate, health professionals say.
Still, there is speculation as to how far the new ban can actually hold in a country where cigarette, cigar and nargileh (water-pipe) smoking is so popular and widespread.
It was met with discontent among clients of the coffee shops of the central Hamra district of Beirut.
“We have mountains of waste and minibuses spewing carbon dioxide. The government would have done better to address these issues before prohibiting smoking,” said Saad Fleifel, peering over a nargileh on a cafe terrace.
Like the majority of people interviewed by AFP, he accused the authorities of depriving him of the right to “unwind” in Lebanon, a country plagued by years of war, instability and economic woes.
“Banning cigarettes is a European concept, but shishas are a way of life in eastern Lebanon and they want to deprive us of that!” said Saad, referring to nargileh.
“Hookah bars are the only things that work in Lebanon,” added his companion Firas Ghali, using another term for the water-pipes.
January 18 2103
Lebanon’s smoking ban in enclosed public areas has ignited a mini-war between the League of Independent Activists, known as IndyAct, and Beirut’s Inab Restaurant, which is across the street from the organization’s headquarters.
IndyAct members, who are strong advocates of the four-month-old ban, claim that the restaurant allows smoking (including argileh or water pipes) in an enclosed area.
According to the activists, the restaurant tells customers that it has a government license that permits smoking in the enclosed dining hall.
Ministers and MPs who support the ban have warned that local agents of international tobacco companies are prepared to spend large sums to protect their interests.On Thursday, 17 January 2013, IndyAct members hoisted a giant banner across their building reading: “Inab Restaurant: If you care about your neighbors, abide by the smoking ban.”
The restaurant’s management reacted by sending a number of employees to IndyAct’s office, who then forced their way in and tore down the banner, according to the organization’s spokesperson Ali Fakhri.
Hour-long Youtube video (in Lebanese?)
The higher the prevalence of smoking, the greater the economic impact of smoking bans. The 2012 Bulgarian smoking ban (40% smoking prevalence) has already led to widespread protests by restaurant and bar owners. In Turkey and Syria and Lebanon, where the smoking prevalence is even higher, the impacts must be correspondingly larger.
See also: Are Arab Smokers Revolting?