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LEBANESE PEOPLE HATE NEW SMOKING BAN MORE THAN THEY HATE ISRAEL
September 4 2012
Beirut, Lebanon – There was a time, now so long ago and so many worlds away that is seems a dream, when Lebanon was the place to be in the Middle East. Rich and prosperous and with a city, Beirut, considered the Paris of the Middle East Lebanon was a happening place and then things change as they tend to do in that region.
An influx of terrorist groups and a subsequent war with Israel shattered that peace and growth. Now the country is essentially split in two with Hezbollah controlling the south and a weak government in the north barely hanging on to power. It is a nation destroyed by conflict that really had nothing to do with it.
Now, though, the people of that country are up in arms for the first time, angry about a new robust smoking law in the country that bans smoking in public places and all advertisements related to smoking. That ban, in a country long considered a smoker’s paradise, has gotten the people of the nation more upset than they have been about anything else in their traumatic history, more than Hezbollah even more than Israel and could well fracture the country once again.
“We have mountains of waste and minibuses spewing carbon dioxide. The government would have done better to address these issues before prohibiting smoking,” local Saad Fleifel told the AFP. “Banning cigarettes is a European concept, but shishas are a way of life in eastern Lebanon and they want to deprive us of that!”
It’s believed that the Lebanese government, at least in the areas they still control, would prefer their citizens to not die of smoking-related illness.
Lebanon has one of the highest rates of smoking in the world, 46 percent of men and 31 percent of women.
“This is certainly a sound and sensible move, one that has been adopted by most of the countries on the planet. People clearly love to smoke in Lebanon but it is a very dangerous habit, one that will kill you if you do it enough and frankly there are more than enough things to kill you Lebanon already so this ban is really not ridiculous,” said Scrape TV Middle East analyst David Gershwin. “Now if they could ban Hezbollah or Syria or even Israel, then they would have something. Unfortunately I think that will be tougher than these smoking laws though probably far less violent. I imagine this ban will be met with more than a little unrest from the populace.”
Thus far no one has been killed trying to enforce the smoking ban.
“There is a strange schism in the country, what with terrorist being the de facto government in huge areas and kidnappers not even being pursued never mind arrested and charged, but that is Lebanon, a nation of contrasts to be sure,” continued Gershwin. “One would hope that this won’t lead to a further rift in the country, sending the people even further down that dark and terrible path that they have travelled so often. I mean the government isn’t doing this to be mean, they are trying to save lives but sometimes that’s hard to see especially in a country where taking lives is so darned common.”
Lebanese officials have not had an death threats yet but that’s coming.
Emil Uliya, International Correspondent