Middle East Roundup

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.

4,500 strong antismoking team

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.”

Hundreds March in Turkey Smoking Ban Protest

 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.

 Anti-Smoking Banner Draws Beirut Restaurant’s Ire

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?

About Frank Davis

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31 Responses to Middle East Roundup

  1. wobbler2012 says:

    “but polls suggest most people support the ban” is an absolute classic line there from the good old Beeb but means nothing, it’s an easy way to create faux support.

    I’m still amazed at how many of these countries are embracing the ban, it’s almost as if a hidden power is pulling the strings because some of them countries with the hookah bar’s it’s been a tradition for centuries.

    • nisakiman says:

      I fail to see how polls can “suggest” most people support the ban. Polls will either show unequivocal support, or not. They won’t “suggest”. It’s another of those weasel words the antis are so fond of using when the results aren’t what they want. They’ll manipulate the figures, and then so they don’t get caught in a blatant lie will use words like “suggest”, “could be”, “experts believe”, “may cause”, etc etc. So I think we can be assured that “most people” categorically do not support the ban.

      And the reason so many countries are embracing the ban is because they are expected to sign up for the FCTC, and if they refuse then they can expect to find that their dealings with the IMF, the UN and the WHO will not be as productive as they might wish.
      It’s blackmail, pure and simple.

  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    Could be smoking bans start a bloody world war!

  3. Rose says:

    Oh dear, I sense another propaganda blitz on it’s way.

    Attenborough documentaries ‘ignore gay animals’

    “Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries are not a true reflection of nature because they fail to acknowledge animals’ “gay” behaviour, an academic has claimed.”

    “Dr Brett Mills of the University of East Anglia accused the veteran broadcaster of espousing the idea that all animals are heterosexual despite a wealth of evidence they engage in a variety of sexual activity.”

    “Dr Mills said his paper, published in the European Journal of Cultural Studies, is aimed at highlighting aspects of animal behaviour such as homosexuality and same-sex parenting which are often ignored or explained away.”

  4. Margo says:

    Another smoke screen, then? Cancers increasing because of the West’s dirty bombs in the middle east to be blamed on smoking?

  5. magnetic01 says:

    A new book by another “expert” on everything. [Hold cursor over book cover for some tidbits from the book]
    Tough Love for Smokers: A Vicious Assault on the
    Nastiest Habit in the World That Will Make Your
    Eyeballs Bleed and Help You Quit Smoking


    • magnetic01 says:

      The book link above came from this comment to an article:

      ”Hatred against smokers has ramped up in recent years.

      And for good reason.

      This story demonstrates why so many people loathe smokers. Selfish behaviour, hard-core white trash mentality…just a sick nasty addiction that seems to be the domain of vile creeps.

      I read this book recently that is basically one long rant against everything about smoking. These kinds of individuals are the type ripped to shreds in the book.”

      Maybe it’s the author self promoting?

      Some snippets from the book, i.e., the hate-addled mind of Ken Austin:

      “People rank absolutely everything. And a person’s death is ranked just as mercilessly as his life. You won’t even be in the ground before people are thinking what an absolute moron you were for having thrown away the glorious miracle that is human life.”

      “Non-smokers will also benefit from reading ‘Tough Love For Smokers’. If you have family members or loved ones who are smokers, you will acquire valuable information for when you decide to engage in a confrontation and let them know how things really are. You may also want to present the book to a smoker and allow him or her to read what you may not have the stomach to say to them directly. Watch as the hard, vicious, no-holds-barred truth washes over them and the sheen of invincibility disappears from their minds forever.”

      “Society’s response to smoking may have hardened you into concocting a comforting storyline for yourself: the persecuted little smoker against the big bad world and governments that restrict your freedoms. Quite possibly this occupies your mind and pushes away the hard truths you have chosen for your one existence in all eternity. Get ready to leave all that behind.

      The obstacles that stand between you and change are the delusional thought processes and self-pity that clog up your nicotine-addled brain…….”

      “If you are a smoker, I don’t have to tell you that one of the last acceptable prejudices in society is against smokers. But I will anyway. Short of endorsing public beatings, governments the world over have let their citizens know that smokers are the lowest of the low and the sanctions, regulations and laws are going to continue to pile up until there is nowhere left for smokers to hide.”

      • garyk30 says:

        People should have freedom of speech; but, that sort of hate is pushing freedom to the limit.

        • Edgar says:

          No dialogue is possible with such a person. The only alternative, then, is what von Clausewitz called ‘politics by other means’.

      • smokervoter says:

        “Short of endorsing public beatings, governments the world over have let their citizens know that smokers are the lowest of the low…”

        Yoo hoo Eddy boy, while you weren’t looking your wet dream became reality, and in Timbuktu yet. It’s time to clean up the sheets and put on your best Tough Guy game face. Don’t forget, you’ve gone public now. You’ve got a book to sell.

        If someone gave me this book I would throw it in the trash can right along with the unconscious body of its obnoxious bestower.

        • smokervoter says:

          I meant ‘Yoo hoo Kenny boy’. ‘Scuse me, I was seeing red. Who, subconsciously, might have I been thinking of? Any major league antismoking fanatics out there named Edward?

          I did read an article about Ed Miliband going Thatcher yesterday, but I doubt that’s it.

    • magnetic01 says:

      Reminds me of a series of comments appearing on a recent blog by rhwombat (a supposed “health professional”):

      “alistairj. Let’s leave the false equivalence bullshit in the US where it (and you) belong, you corporate shill. Your squeals are music to my medical ears, since it means that we are winning. Make your blood money now, because I’ll see you later.”

      “You pathetic, sneering, self-deluding addict of the the most evil product since slavery was outlawed. I work with the same disadvantaged men (generally victims of the ‘alcohol and other drugs’ culture which somehow manages to rationalise the most addictive substance as OK, at least when in the pub or prison) that you use to as an excuse to rant about the “affront to human dignity”, only when I see them, it is to try and do something about their presentation with one of the diseases imaged. That would be in the public hospitals in which I have worked for 30 years, looking after the victims of your “habit”, far from the private and corporate largesse that you try to tar me with. Bugger off, you posturing dilettante.

      Guess what alistair? those pictures are real people, suffering real affronts to their dignity for the benefit of the corporate slavers. You and the “disadvantaged men” whom you patronisingly co-opt to your public squeamishness are not the target. For you and your mates, it’s already too late: your smoking has already lit the fuse on your malignancies and vascular disease. The images are to try to stop your corporate slave masters from recruiting new smokers for profit and to dilute out the guilt that you try to suppress. So suck it up sweetheart, and I’ll see you in a few years time. Think of this when you light up one of your “disadvantaged” clients cigarettes.”

      “Keep looking at the pictures of your future, you pathetic prat. Let me know when you start coughing blood.”

      When he(?) was asked to explain what nonsmokers die from – if they die at all – his comments stopped.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item

      Says it all.

  6. harleyrider1978 says:

    Another one Frank

    Venezuela sharply devalues its currency

    By boosting the bolivar value of Venezuela’s dollar-denominated oil sales, the change is expected to help ease a difficult budget outlook for the government, which has turned increasingly to borrowing to meet its spending obligations.

    But analysts said the move would not be sufficient to end the government’s budget woes or balance the exchange rate with an overvalued currency. Economists predicted higher inflation and a likely continuation of shortages of some staple foods, such as cornmeal, chicken and sugar.

  7. smokingscot says:

    Looking at what happened in Scotland. 14 months after the ban Labour lost the election (after 50 years of being the dominant party in Scotland), paving the way for an SNP minority government. They converted that to a thumping great majority and separatism is one possible outcome.

    Took longer in England, however the party responsible for the ban has been booted out of power.

    The coalition in the Netherlands that imposed it on the leisure sector lost at the next election. A new coalition had to be formed and part of the deal was to reform their ban. The Freedom party helped make that happen, all within 15 months.

    Voters in Spain hoofed their lot at the first opportunity and (in a similar scenario to Britain) have been conned by their equivalents to the Tory party, except in this case they can’t blame it on “the coalition”. Again there are similarities with the Catalan region seeking independence.

    Lebanon excluded, most of the ME countries you mention had many issues with the ruling elite, going back decades but had no other way to remove them than outright rebellion.

    I’d never allude to it all being down to the smoking bans. My suspicion is they had as many people who felt anger and betrayal and quit supporting the establishment. They quit reporting or their sources of information dried up when their regulars quit going to their old haunts. Our police found exactly the same problem when the wet/low end bars and pubs closed.

    Of course we (in Britain) have seen no difference with respect to smokers. But they miss the point, or at least the Tories don’t get it. We got change even if it was only to get shot of the outfits that passed the legislation.

    Here we don’t do conflicts. And some of us don’t give a damn, so we don’t do reporting, we don’t inform the police, we don’t do the good citizen stuff any longer. And some of the cash we gave to charities, well perhaps some of that’s been re-routed to UKIP, the English Democrats, BNP and EDL (or SDL).

    If this scenario plays out elsewhere I suspect Putin will lose his Southern States and quite possibly Kaliningrad (the source of much of the “illegal” tobacco), post 2014. China may well lose its autonomous regions and, with luck, Tibet.

    You may be aware that there’s a cyber war going on with Iran at the moment. There’s also a tremendous push by the US assisted by the UK (via the BBC World Service) to get the people to rise up against their regime. Laughable though this might be, they’ve made a big issue out of the recent ban on women smoking shisha’s in public! Seems there’s an awful lot of very bad blood, because these were one of the few places boys could meet girls. (Now you gotta have a car, but that’s another story entirely).


    So it seems that at least the intelligence community is aware of the ferment that’s possible through idiotic smoking bans.

  8. magnetic01 says:

    It just doesn’t stop (particularly under this current Labor/Greens government).

    Government could control taste of cigarettes, raise taxes in battle against


    And right there, slap bang in the middle of the article, is the Chapman Trick. For those not familiar with the trick, see comments by “magnetic01” at:

    • beobrigitte says:

      Yes, the old trick; it’s been repeated over and over and over.

      Hang on!!! I thought we all are supposed to embrace natural products?
      The five-year tobacco control strategy says cigarette companies use additives such as sugar, honey, licorice and cocoa to “enhance the taste of tobacco smoke to make the product more desirable
      It’s called NATURE.
      This sounds a damned lot better than what is in the stuff being peddled in the smoking cessation clinics… Champix does not have 1 NATURAL ingredient, has it? And it provides the new non-smoker with a long term ( for the NHS very expensive) condition of depression. That is if there is no suicide, in which case Champix causes DEATHS!!

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        The tobacco companies would just start going blackmarket to provide premium quality tobacco to its customers like it did in Canada back in the 1990s!

  9. magnetic01 says:

    Frank, have a comment awaiting moderation.

  10. beobrigitte says:

    The middle east and smoking bans, an interesting subject!

    Can we safely say that TOBACCO SMOKE in Syria does not enter it’s citizen’s list of problems.
    When the ?WHO/anti-smoking zealots waltzed in there and lamented that SHS is a killer, did they address (the then) government’s issues with basic human rights?
    Perhaps the smoking ban was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And what we see now are REAL DEATHS.

    Turkey wants to be in the EU; it will dictate to it’s people whatever is dictated from Brussel’s office-chair-farters, who show absolutely no interest in the kurds other than providing them with a “life-saving” smoking ban, too.
    Perhaps one can avoid the Turkish areas of the Mediterranean holiday with their anti-smoking inspectors. The Greeks most certainly look after their paying guests VERY WELL!!!

    How on earth did the anti-smoking zealots manage to lobby a smoking ban in Lebanon? With the “saving lives” slogan? Very interesting.

    Just curious; I wonder if the WHO anti-smoking zealots are visiting the people of Iran right now and lecture them about “saving lives”…. I am not sure Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to be in the EU……….

  11. magnetic01 says:

    Iran nixes smoking for executive aspirants

    Tehran, Iran (CNN) — Want a job in Iran’s executive branch? Quit smoking.

    People addicted to tobacco cannot get jobs with the government’s executive branch, according to the semi-official Iranian Labour News Agency, which cited a directive published Monday by the Cabinet’s information office.

    The directive — intended to ensure that applicants are healthy physically and mentally — follows the guidelines of the Law of the National Services Management, ILNA reported.

  12. Pingback: A Vicious Assault | Frank Davis

  13. harleyrider1978 says:


    Nick Clegg says he has quit smoking, but cannot promise that it will be for good

  14. harleyrider1978 says:

    The shit just keeps getting deeper,they make all these claims yet provide no proof of what they claim!


    Illicit fags laced with arsenic and rodent droppings

    Read more: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4787162/Illicit-fags-laced-with-arsenic-and-rodent-droppings.html#ixzz2KWIzysJT


  15. harleyrider1978 says:

    Frank you have to go look at a green windmill that blew up and caught fire!

    Friends Of The Earth & WWF Recieved Billions From EU To Promote AGW Scam

    The UK Met Office has found itself in a very embarrassing position, an avid promoter of the Anthropogenic Global Warming scam, it has had to admit there has been no warming for the last 15 years.

    This is seriously bad news for Climate Religion, to call it climate science is to do a major disservice to the many honest and diligent scientists, who actually practice real science.

    At best the warmists could be described as a lobby group, but what do you call it when the Government funds the lobbyists to lobby the Government?

    A number of words spring to mind Fraud for example, Global Warming, Climate Change, Green and Environmentalism are also synonyms for fraud:

    The peculiarity of the global warming lobby is that it is partly funded by governments to lobby governments.

    Friends of the Earth received €3,101,245 from the European Union between 2007 and 2009. WWF did better, with €8,794,595.

    Between 1998 and 2009, the EU disbursed €66 million to the green lobby. It’s a kind of “you fund us and we’ll keep forecasting climate catastrophe and you can produce green taxes on the basis of our forecasts that scare your citizens”. Some might call this a corrupt relationship. It’s certainly not a healthy one.

    Organisations, scientists and governments have so committed themselves to global warming that they need us to keep believing it. Those lucrative funding projects for scientists, those jollies to conferences in five-star hotels to “save the world”, the wind turbines making cash for everyone except us paying energy bills – will all come to an end once the people rumble the climate con.

  16. Pingback: Smokers’ Paradise Regained? | Frank Davis

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