Smokers’ Paradise Regained?

A couple of years back, I noted that Lebanon had introduced a smoking ban:

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…

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.

Now, H/T Harley, it may about to be relaxed.

Lebanon’s Law 174 goes up in smoke

On Saturday Mohammad Machnouk, Lebanon’s interior minister, announced that the much-buffeted Law 174, which banned smoking in public places, such as cafes, restaurants, bars, government buildings and offices, was to be “relaxed”. Presumably this was to ease the burden on a hospitality sector still reeling from a decimated tourism industry and the ongoing political chaos. It prompted a jubilant head of Lebanon’s syndicate of restaurant owners to claim, rather bizarrely, that the move protected “Lebanon and its cuisine.” .

When the legislation was enacted in September 2012, the private sector went nuts, claiming that US$50 million worth of business and about 2,500 jobs would be lost as a result of the new edict. Owners claimed business, which was already down 30 per cent because of a disastrous summer season, had plummeted by another 30 per cent virtually overnight.

Lebanon’s enthusiastic smokers, meanwhile, were left wondering why they would suddenly be liable for a $450 fine, while who they saw as the real criminals were getting away, in some cases literally, with murder. It was hard not to sympathise. Since then, Law 174 has been gradually abused by a combination of bad enforcement and the ingenuity of business owners who have found loopholes.

The author of the article is clearly an antismoker.

I am quite convinced that the majority of Lebanon’s smokers do not know that around half of all smokers die from smoking-related diseases with a life expectancy of about 10 years less than a non-smoker. In Britain, where there are about 10 million adult smokers, the number of ex-smokers now exceeds that of smokers, while more and more people are either quitting or deciding not to start. Compare this to the middle of the 20th century, when 85 per cent of British men smoked. Public campaigns work.

Thirty years ago in Britain it was still possible to smoke on the bus and the Underground, something that would be inconceivable now. Since 2007, when it was forbidden to smoke in public and enclosed spaces, people have adjusted. The cost of a packet of cigarettes — now a staggering £10 (Dh56) — has surely helped to convince people to give up. My wife, a committed smoker in Lebanon, has stopped since moving to England. It is simply too expensive she says. QED.

Why should smoking on buses be “inconceivable”? I can well remember it, and can well imagine it.

And a great many people (myself included) have not “adjusted” to the 2007 UK public smoking ban: I hate it just as much now as I did back in 2007.

This current development is ultimately about Lebanon’s inability to enforce the rule of law; its rather worrying habit of putting crude business interests ahead of the public good and its reluctance to embrace the lesson learnt in other countries. With only 70 per cent of restaurants and bars currently abiding by the law, the amendment will be seen as a green light to spark up at will across the nation. Law 174, has in effect, been killed and Mr Machnouk, who drew criticism for himself smoking during a TV interview at the interior ministry, should be ashamed of himself.

I would have been delighted to see Mr Machnouk light up. I’d like to see more UK politicians doing the same. And it’s about time business interests were put ahead of so-called public health.

But it may only be a proposal to amend law 174.

BEIRUT: The syndicate of restaurant owners said Saturday that Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk supported their demand to relax a 2012 smoking ban.

After meeting with the minister, syndicate chief Tony al-Rami said that that Machnouk “expressed his agreement and support to the proposed amendment, because it protects the Lebanon and its cuisine.”

Rami did not specify what the amendment contains. But restaurant and pub owners have long fought against the law forbidding smoking inside enclosed spaces, complaining that it’s bad for business…


Health Minister Wael Abu Faour noted last month that the smoking ban was being widely violated, and announced that his ministry would carry out “raids” to ensure it was applied. Due to security forces being engaged with other priorities such as combatting terrorism, a number of venues have shrugged off the smoking ban altogether.

Lebanon’s tourism police strictly enforced the law in the first few weeks after its adoption, especially in Beirut. But restaurants and bars gradually became more lenient regarding smoking indoors after they realized authorities were no longer enforcing the law.

Yes, I suppose combating terrorism might just be more important than enforcing a widely disregarded smoking ban.

But when Tobacco Control flies its rapid reaction heavy mob into Lebanon later on this week, they’ll probably decide that enforcing the smoking ban is, on reflection, more important than combating terrorism.


About Frank Davis

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21 Responses to Smokers’ Paradise Regained?

  1. Smoking Lamp says:

    The online opposition to lifting the ban has been, as expected, swift and vile. The typical abusive statements about smokers and attacks on persons who dissent with the tobacco control party line has been intense. The tobacco control cult really despises dissent and is convinced they can extinguish smoking (and emotionally smokers) in the near-term. They may just find out that they are wrong. If they continue to press so hard a backlash is likely–especially when smokers realize that this is all propaganda driven. There really is no grassroots tobacco control movement (other than a few antismokers). This is all driven by a global oligarchic elite supported by a complicit and corrupted media.

  2. Reinhold says:

    But when Tobacco Control flies its rapid reaction heavy mob into Lebanon later on this week, they’ll probably decide that enforcing the smoking ban is, on reflection, more important than combating terrorism.

    Of course it is!

    How many people per year die in terrorist attacks?


    You see!

    One has to set priorities.

    • Smoking Lamp says:

      Well somewhere around 15,000 persons die in an average year due to terrorist attack (deaths from insurgency are higher), but I suspect the actual number roof people who dies from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is about ZERO (despite the alarmist propaganda).

      • Reinhold says:

        Exactly that’s my opinion too, Smoking Lamp.

        But I’m quite sure Tobacco Control’s Rapid Persuasion Force flying into Lebanon has a different one, i.e. the one described above.

      • nisakiman says:

        Yes, annual deaths from ‘passive smoking’ would indeed be about zero, but let’s not let facts get in the way of the propaganda, eh? 600,000 sounds a suitably scary number, so 600,000 it will be. 600,000 v 15,000? No contest. Let the bans roll on…

      • US Bureau of Labor Statistics Shows Zero Deaths From 2nd Hand Smoke
        Where are the deaths?
        If people who work in bars die from secondhand smoke, why does the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the last 4 years show ZERO DEATHS from exposure to harmful substances or environments?

        This data is for 2011. (pg38 of 53). Notice that 31 people died while working in a “drinking place”(which my bar is classified as). 27 deaths were by violent injuries by persons or animals(?). 2 died by fires or explosions. I don’t know where the other 2 deaths are listed however, there are 0 deaths from exposure to harmful substances or environments.
        So where are these deaths from SHS?
        Notice 2010 under this below. In 2010, there were 28 total deaths, 25 from violence and 0 from exposure to harmful substances or environments.

        0250.pdf (pg 18).
        In 2009, 32 deaths of bar workers. 31 were violent deaths and 0 from exposure to harmful substances or environments.
        (pg 18)
        In 2008, 35 deaths of bar workers. 32 were violent deaths and 0 from exposure to harmful substances or environments.
        (pg 18).
        They aren’t crawling out and dying in the parking lots either. We would have noticed ’em.”
        Sheila Martin

  3. Smoking Lamp says:

    Good news for a change: Smoking ban at Win-River to be lifted

    REDDING, Calif. – Less than a year after it became the second casino in California to bar smoking, Win-River Resort & Casino is calling off the ban because of overwhelming customer complaints.

  4. waltc says:

    On the news that Obama said globall warming was a greater threat than terrorism. And our friend The Bloomberg once excoriated the press for spilling too much ink over the 2300 casualties at the World Trade Center considering (as he preposterously did ) that “that number of people die every year in this city from secondhand smoke.” Believe it or not, that quote is verbatim: Vanity Fair magazine, 2003.

  5. Rose says:

    Yay, just like the old monkey experiments.

    “In the experiments, smokers had to choose between pressing a key that might earn cigarettes or a key that might earn chocolate, and were uncertain about which key was most likely to pay off in each trial. Just before participants made each choice, they were presented with either a picture of a branded cigarette pack, a picture of a plain cigarette pack, or nothing.

    The results showed that whereas branded packs increased the probability of participants making the cigarette choice by 10% compared to when nothing was presented, the plain packs did not. The implication is that plain packs are less effective at prompting smokers to purchase cigarettes compared to branded packs.”

    The question is, did they immobilize them first or withdraw food until they pressed the right lever?

    Oh hang on, those were the experiments to prove that nicotine was an addictive substance.

    I wonder if we gave the scientists a light tap on the head with a stick of celery every time they mention plain packaging, they’d finally give up.

    They are not plain and you know it.

  6. prog says:

    How strange that virtually all the research into something that has been accused of causing zillions of disease/death/obesity for generations was bollocks, sorry – flawed.

    ‘Governments in both the US and UK have ‘practically destroyed the dairy industry by suggesting that butter, cheese and full fat milk increased cardiovascular disease risk, when the contrary is true’.

    Yet it’s been ‘proven’ beyond all doubt that SHS is a killer (depending on whose research is cited of course).

    Public Health is not fit for purpose.

    • Rose says:

      Fun isn’t it, Prog, Public Health have been spinning like mad this morning.

      For example –
      “Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “This paper is not critical of current advice on saturated fats but suggests the advice was introduced prematurely in the 1980s.”

      It’s not from the 80’s though, it’s from the 50’s.

      Diet and Fat: A Severe Case of Mistaken Consensus

      “In the case of fatty foods, that confident voice belonged to Ancel Keys, a prominent diet researcher a half-century ago (the K-rations in World War II were said to be named after him). He became convinced in the 1950s that Americans were suffering from a new epidemic of heart disease because they were eating more fat than their ancestors.”

      “To bolster his theory, Dr. Keys in 1953 compared diets and heart disease rates in the United States, Japan and four other countries. Sure enough, more fat correlated with more disease (America topped the list). But critics at the time noted that if Dr. Keys had analyzed all 22 countries for which data were available, he would not have found a correlation.”

      “The evidence that dietary fat correlates with heart disease “does not stand up to critical examination,” the American Heart Association concluded in 1957. But three years later the association changed position — not because of new data, Mr. Taubes writes, but because Dr. Keys and an ally were on the committee issuing the new report. It asserted that “the best scientific evidence of the time” warranted a lower-fat diet for people at high risk of heart disease.”

      • Mummies’ clogged arteries take smoking, fatty foods, lethargy out of the mix

        By Tom Valeo, Times Correspondent

        Tuesday, April 23, 2013 4:30am

        You do everything right: You exercise every day, include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet, never smoke, minimize the stress in your life and take medication to keep your cholesterol and blood pressure under control. You’re preventing modern life from ruining your heart, right? • Well, maybe modern life isn’t as much of a problem as merely living. CT scans of 137 ancient mummies from three continents show that our ancestors had plaque in their arteries, too, even though they never smoked, never tasted ice cream or pork rinds, and had no choice but to exercise vigorously every day of their lives.

        According to the study, which appeared recently in the Lancet, at least one-third of the mummies, who lived as long as 5,000 years ago, had arteries that had narrowed as a result of atherosclerosis — the buildup of fatty deposits in the arterial wall. Apparently the cardiovascular system has a tendency to clog up over time.

        “Our research shows that we are all at risk for atherosclerosis, the disease that causes heart attacks and strokes,” said Gregory Thomas, medical director of the MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute, Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, and one of the authors of the study. “The data we gathered about individuals from the prehistoric cultures of ancient Peru and the Native Americans living along the Colorado River and the Unangan of the Aleutian Islands is forcing us to look for other factors that may cause heart disease.”

        The diet of the mummies varied widely, but contained ample protein and vegetables (and presumably no cupcakes or pork rinds). Aside from the few Egyptian mummies who lived their lives as pampered royalty, these ancient people used their muscles constantly.

        Yet, the atherosclerosis was found in mummies who died in what we today would consider middle age (almost none made it to 60). And just as today, their arteries became more narrow as they got older. CT scans of modern people have demonstrated that after the age of 60 for men and 70 for women, some degree of atherosclerosis is all but universal. One large study found that teens ages 15 to 19 showed early signs of atherosclerosis, and 50 percent already had conspicuous accumulations of plaque.

        “All of us age in every tissue of our body,” says Dr. Donald LaVan, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and a spokesman for the American Heart Association. “It’s just a question of how rapidly it happens. There’s nothing you can do to stop aging. All you’re trying to do is prevent it from advancing faster than it should.”

        The authors of the paper agree. “Although commonly assumed to be a modern disease, the presence of atherosclerosis in premodern humans raises the possibility of a more basic predisposition to the disease,” they concluded.

        So what can we do to thwart that predisposition?

        Above all, don’t smoke, says LaVan, and engage in regular physical activity.

        “After that, we’re in the realm of treating disease,” he says. “If your lipids are up or you have hypertension, take care of it. If you have problems with rhythm disturbances, that must be treated, too, because it impairs the ability of heart to pump efficiently. We’re looking at common sense here, but getting patients to do these things is tough.”

      • waltc says:

        Read Taubes’ book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” which is a stunning anatomy of the whole anti-fat, and especially anti- cholesterol dogma, with Keyes at the center. The parallel with the anti- tobacco movement is stunning, again with a few Leading Lights as catalysts. And the role of the government and the media in hyping Keyes’ hobby horse and ignoring all –and there was a lot of it–evidence to the contrary.

  7. Smoking Scot says:

    The figures for 2014 in Lebanon of people killed by some form of terrorist attack came to 35. However the number of people wounded (and we know only that they did not die at the time, though – as we know from the London tube attack – some wish they had) came to a staggering 410.

    These figures do not include the perpetrators, most of whom were comfortable at the prospect of martyrdom. That said their kill ratio is quite low.

    By comparison 2015 has so far seen 10 outright deaths and 30 not dead but injured, with varying levels of severity.

    However these do not include military casualties. Tripoli a few months back was a virtual no-go area with the spill-over from Syria. To sort of quell that for a while 11 soldiers, 8 civilians and 22 militants lost their lives. No idea of “casualties”, though a ratio of 10 to 1 is reasonable.

    Of course Hezbollah have upped the anti in the South, when they killed a couple of UN peacekeepers and an Israeli soldier a couple of days back.

    The languages in Lebanon are Arabic and French (though English is widely spoken amongst the better educated). Therefore most of the comments in support of the smoking ban in the English press are most likely written by a handful of ne’er-do-well’s and your standard issue TC paid-to-do trash. They most certainly stick out like a massive zit on this – August 2012 – blog post, with a whole pile of Christian names lobbed in amongst the two or three who actually live there.

    The Lebanese diaspora can be quite amusing and reflects what has been said here already. However this is not tongue-in-cheek!!!

    “For those who will say: Cava, hala2, we have a million thing to worry about, ma kella cigara-
    I will say, I know that we have shit load of stuff to worry about: Our security, DAESH, Nicolas Fattouch, Ontornet, women’s right, racist & homophobic police and people… but that doesn’t make it okay to a label a law silly or unimportant and then break it… NOT OKAY!”

    and can be found here:

    In the Arabic press, there’s nowhere near the same level of support for the ban; indeed they’re way ahead of us when it comes to pointing out where government priorities should lie.

    And the Arabic press matters far more to your average politician in Lebanon.

  8. Smoking ban at Win-River to be lifted
    REDDING, Calif. – Less than a year after it became the second casino in California to bar smoking, Win-River Resort & Casino is calling off the ban because of overwhelming customer complaints.

  9. Council says ‘no’ to smoking ban (02/09/2015)
    By Chris Rogers
    On Monday night the Winona City Council rejected a proposal to ban tobacco use in city parks. Pam Eyden was the only council member to support a tobacco ban proposed by wellness organization Live Well Winona. Council members Gerry Krage and Paul Double said such a rule could make the city like a “nanny state.” Instead, the council voted 5-2 to approve a softer policy to discourage, but not prohibit, the use of tobacco in city parks.
    Live Well Winona’s proposal called for city staff to draft a tobacco-free policy that would have disallowed cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products in city parks and trails. Because the “no smoking” rule would be a policy, not an ordinance, smoking would be technically disallowed, but the city would not have been able to fine smokers or take other legal action to enforce the rule. Winona Park and Recreation Community Services Director Chad Ubl explained in an interview that compliance with similar policies in other cities is voluntary. Live Well Winona Director Janneke Sobeck said that simply putting up signage, without taking any enforcement actions, greatly reduces the use of tobacco in public spaces.

    Sobeck explained that she hoped the policy would have reduced exposure to secondhand smoke, reduced litter from cigarette butts, and reduced children’s perception of smoking as normal and OK. The development of a tobacco-free policy was also a requirement for a potential $20,000 grant for park signage Live Well Winona is seeking.

    Lake Winona, as part of Lake Park, would have been subject to the smoking ban. That means canoeists and ice fishermen on the lake would be unable to smoke, council member George Borzyskowksi observed.

    City league softball players may spend three hours at Bambenek Fields on game night, and for smokers, that is a long time to go without a cigarette, Krage said. “They shouldn’t be smoking but that’s there choice,” he stated. “People sitting around a campfire on Prairie Island — they’re around a campfire and they can’t have a cigarette?” he asked. Krage also questioned whether banning alcohol in city parks would be the next step.

    No one should be restricted from lighting up a cigarette in their boat in the middle of Lake Winona or around the bonfire at Prairie Island campground, Double stated. “Nor do I want to be putting my boat in the water at one of our boat ramps and have one more thing on my list of rules that mess up my supposedly enjoyable day in the outdoors,” Double said. He also said that the policy, which would partially rely on citizens telling other citizens not to smoke, invites hostile confrontation.

    Eyden said that she has not been bothered by people smoking at city parks, but that she despises finding cigarette butts by picnic tables and benches and would support the policy simply to eliminate littered butts. Her motion to direct staff to draft a tobacco-free policy failed for lack of a second.

    Council member Allyn Thurley said that he was uncomfortable formally banning tobacco, but that he would be comfortable with a policy of discouraging tobacco use in city parks.

    “I’m not sure we need to develop and/or I’m not sure how we develop a policy to discourage something we’re not going to ultimately prohibit,” Ubl responded. He said that city staff could discourage the use of tobacco products without a formal action by the council. Ubl later suggested that the city could post notices on its website and at park facilities notifying the public that smoking is discouraged.

    Thurley’s motion to direct staff to develop a policy to discourage the use of tobacco products passed 5-2, with Eyden, Borzyskowski, council member Michelle Alexander, and Mayor Mark Peterson supporting it. Double and Krage dissented.

    East End boat harbor to be closed

    The City Council unanimously approved an agreement to close the East End boat harbor to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to unload dredge sand during weekdays in 2015. Public Works Director Keith Nelson told the council that when the harbor would be closed will be dependent on river levels. The agreement does not specify when or how long the harbor would be closed, but would potentially allow the corps to use the harbor on weekdays throughout the reminder of the year. The harbor will be open on weekends.

    The city intends to use the dredge sand for fill and compaction in vacant lots in Technology Park and Riverbend Park in order to prepare the soil for development.

    The council also unanimously approved a development agreement with WinCraft for a new manufacturing facility on two lots in Technology Park. That project may also require sand for fill or compaction.

    • Council members Gerry Krage and Paul Double said such a rule could make the city like a “nanny state.” Instead, the council voted 5-2 to approve a softer policy to discourage, but not prohibit, the use of tobacco in city parks.

  10. Petition to repeal smoking ban filed

    News-Press Now

    A St. Joseph bar owner has filed a petition to repeal and replace the clean air ordinance. Steve Peterman, owner of Peterman’s Shamrock at 1805 St.

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