Dining Out Magazine

Calling to Amend Law Against Smoking in Lebanon’s Restaurants and Cafes – Are You For Or Against?

By Nogarlicnoonions @nogarlicnoonion

News that a group of restaurant owners in Lebanon have called out for a protest on October 23, 2012 against the smoking ban on all closed public spaces. Restaurant owners are calling for a change in this law under the slogan: “Lakouna bl share3 7atta ma nsir bl share3″ (meet us on the streets before we end up on the streets)

Ever since the law against smoking has been passed in Lebanon, complaints from restaurant and cafe owners have been emerging -  owners of cafes that serve arguileh held a two-hour sit-in in the town square of Antelias to protest against the ban. Along with the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Cafes, Nightclubs and Pastries, they were demanding amendments to the law to allow smoking in some establishments.

Their business has already been affected… Negatively.

No response has been given yet by the MPs. I for one am with the smoking ban…but maybe special licenses should be issued to cafes and similar places – something that is common is in European cities.

Problems surfaced

A recent Ernst and Young study, commissioned by the Association of Restaurant Owners, 82 percent of respondents, themselves owners of hospitality venues, believe the law would lead to an increase in corruption. Out of total revenues, which exceed $735 million, the association said the revenues of restaurants, pubs and nightclubs could decline by $282 million, putting the figure at 7.1 percent of Lebanon’s GDP. The Ernst & Young study also claimed that around $46 million would be lost in tourism spending, putting over 2,600 full time jobs in danger of being phased out.

The study found that the ban could decrease revenue by as much as $280 million for restaurants, pubs and nightclubs. The study also claimed that tourism revenue could drop by as much as $46 million. Much of Lebanon tourism is driven by its relaxed lifestyle culture where tourists frequent cafes, bars and restaurants.

While others disagree…

An article in NBCNews.com reported that in Turkey, for example, business revenues reportedly increased by as much as 5 percent after a similar ban was imposed – more people and their families went to restaurants or cafes where smoking had been prevalent, making the atmosphere uncomfortable.

What do you think should happen?


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