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Smoking ban will cause the loss of 2600 jobs in Lebanon

Tobacco control legislation will come into effect in Lebanon on September 3rd, 2012.

As usual, the Lebanese government will implement random laws without studying the effect it will cause on society and the economy.

Don't get me wrong, I am not against the smoking ban, but it should not be like this. This law that was approved is out-dated and comes back from the early 1900s and is technically very strict that I doubt it will even be properly enforced.

What's mainly wrong with this law is that it does not allow for smokers to have specialized places to go to. It is also incomplete as it sets the stage for poor implementation, corruption and a non-negligible negative effect on the country’s tourism and hospitality sectors.

The figures and infographics below are prepared by The Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants in Lebanon and are part of a study conducted by Ernest & Young in Lebanon.

It makes you think twice before following the tobacco ban law blindly.

UPDATE: You can read the law and its amendments (in red) here.

Issues with the current legislation
  • The current Lebanese legislation is drastically restrictive in comparison to effectively implemented smoking bans in developed and progressive nations such as Germany and France, as well as in comparison with effective regional models such as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
  • The greater flexibility of the legislation in the above countries correlates with their successful implementation.
  • The severity of the Lebanese legislation renders the law unrealistic to implement in full. This critical flaw is execrated by the fact that Lebanon ranks low in terms of law abidance.
  • The current legislation opens the door for increased corruption at the local level, due to selective implementation.
  • In order for a law to be effective, it must be fair and equally implementable. An Ernst & Young study on the issue has found that the current legislation will be unequally implementable, particularly in areas and regions where the state lacks authority.
  • This is detrimental not only from a legal standpoint, but also in terms of the intended health benefits which should benefit the entire population equally.
  • The current legislation is set to have a significant negative impact on the Lebanese economy, namely at the level of revenues, unemployment, tourism spending and tax collection. This impact is likely to be more accentuated given the current political turmoil and tensions in the country.
  • The Lebanese government lacks the ability to ensure successful and equal implementation. As a result, the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Caf├ęs, Night-Clubs &Pastries in Lebanon constitutes a valuable partner to help and cooperate. However, the syndicate favors a law it deems complete, implementable, beneficial and economically viable.

Recommended legal amendments
  • Minor amendments to just 2% of the current legislation will increase its successful implementation.
  • This will increase compatibility with the Lebanese tourism industry and put the legislation on par with some of the most effective anti-smoking legislation executed internationally.
  • The recommended amendments restrict smoking in all closed public spaces, work areas and public transport. The syndicate also recommends enforcing this restriction on all restaurants, pastry shops, sandwich outlets and other establishments where food accounts for the main business.
  • However, the syndicate is hoping to regulate these restrictions so as to exempt establishments that may be labeled as restaurants but whose predominant business is not food but instead alcoholic beverages and entertainment, such as shisha cafes, clubs, bars and pubs.
  • This exemption however would not exempt the above entities from fulfilling technical requirements, such as:
    • Installing proper cooling and ventilation systems.
    • Restricting entry to minors under 18.
    • Placing clear signage outside establishments cautioning that smoking is permissible on premise.
  • These proposed amendments would put Lebanese legislature on par with effectively implemented and progressive legislation internationally, such as in Germany and Qatar.
  • With proper regulation, the law can also be applied uniformly so as to safeguard the intended health benefits in areas with strict state control as well as those outside of it.

Key facts
  • Lebanese restaurants, cafes, pubs and nightclubs generate $735 million in revenues per year.
  • The current legislation will generate a drop of roughly $282 million in revenues, representing 7.1% of GDP in the hospitality sector and a significant blow to the Lebanese economy as a whole.
  • It will also affect the Lebanese restaurants, cafes, pubs and nightclubs revenue by 25% overall with cafes seeing the biggest slump in revenues.
  • The current legislation is also expected to affect tourism spending by $46 million and lead to a loss of about 2600 full-time jobs.
  • To top it all, according to commissioned survey studies the public has poor faith in the current legislation with approximately 71% of surveyed believing the law will be poorly implemented and 82% of them believing it will be an opportunity for more corruption.


  1. These are very misleading statistics, anyone can throw in some numbers and we know how Ernst and Young does business for tobacco industry......and other countries do not have 'best practices'...the only best practices are from the WHO MPOWER and FCTC which over 190 countries - INCLUDING LEBANON - signed on to.. so don't try to fool people with such rubbish.

    You value money over human lives......shame!!!!!!!

  2. Despite the high expenses that will affect restaurants and pubs across the country, I'm sure it's not as immense as the health bills resulting from the negligence of first-hand and second-hand smoking in Lebanon.

  3. Why do smokers need a smoking area when they can smoke outside? Most shisha places and the like have an outdoor venue (or at least a number of chairs if not a whole venue) outside. I really don't see it as strict as it's completely unhealthy. It doesn't matter if you put in ventilation systems or you restrict it to 18 and over, the same effects will happen.

    And I don't understand why people will suddenly lose their jobs. One day a thousand people are coming in, and then, bam, people disappeared? I dunno. Are those figures from the ministry? Or is it only their design?

    PS- don't worry about those places, the pubs and all that, because they're not even going to follow the law to begin with, unfortunately. And I think there is a clause that gives the owner of a shisha place a license?

  4. Losing 2600 Job is better than threatening millions of lives .. I can't believe we are even debating this ... No country on earth would defend smoking in restaurants ... besides, Restaurants had smoking clients for decades, let them give a turn to non-smokers ....

  5. where did you find that infographic? was the study by Ernst & Young published online?

  6. Would Ernst & Young care to provide a time span for their figures? Of course not! These figures represent the immediate and TEMPORARY impact of the law. It'll all pick up sooner or later. It is simply inevitable. People won't stay at home just because they can't smoke in restaurants. Not for long at least. This is ridiculous!

  7. Smokers will adapt, don't worry about them. Going to a restaurant, pub or cafe is something people won't stop doing so they'll eventually accept the fact that this law isn't something they have a choice in. No need for the drama.

  8. They had a one-year delay before the law goes into action, why did they wait for the last week?

    And as Anonymous said, it's a shame you're valuing money over human lives.

  9. They have been working on it all year.

    Also, it's funny how everyone keeps saying that I'm valuing money over human lives. Does it not occur to them not to go to places where smoking is allowed if they care so much about their health? Obviously, places that allow smoking will become a minority, and no one is forcing anyone to go, so spare me the lecture of people's health. If smoking bothers you, don't go to places with smoking allowed. END OF STORY

  10. I am not a smoker, but I believe that smoking is a personal choice, just like the choice we make every morning on whether to wear a grey or a black suit, just like the choice of what perfume to wear... (you get the idea, dont you?)

    I believe that as long as a smoker is excercising his right of smoking without harming others (non smokers) then we should not take that luxury away for him/her. Hence, having a smoking area were only smokers can stay is a logical solution to all...

    Putting aside all figures and numbers above, one wise famous lebanese said that the ban of public smoking by the government in Lebanon is like wiping of the ketchup from your cheack while your legs are dipped in shit.


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