The American in Arabia casts a skeptical 'insider' eye at Lebanon's prospects for a successful smoking ban.
A crackdown on smoking in public places is officially on in Lebanon. Is this as vain as telling Americans not to talk loud in public or is there a chance this new law will actually extinguish the smoke?
Today the country of Lebanon is enacting and enforcing a smoking ban in all public enclosures. To the casual Western reader this news is as blasé as Lady Gaga getting a tattoo or the national debt adding another trillion dollars. Ho-Hum.
To anyone Lebanese or familiar with their ilk, this ban is big. We’re talking headlines-- the Prince Harry nude billiards type of news.
Arabs love their Camels, and were not talking about the ones you ride. And the Lebanese are among the leaders of the pack… and carton.
This should tell you how committed to their fags the Lebanese are. Middle East Airlines, a Lebanese carrier was the last company in the entire world to ban smoking on flights in 2001. 10 years later they had to beg their government to make it a federal law because people still kept lighting up in flight!
This doesn’t stop the pilots however. Hostesses have leaked that the captain likes to have a drag in the cockpit- a Lucky Strike for a Lebanese striker is suprisingly routine.
It is not at all uncommon to go to gramma’s in Beirut and she’ll offer you a tray of cigs. Forget the Werther’s Originals, how about an Ultra Slim?
For a Lebanese denizen, nothing starts off a meal like a drag of a fag. And in between courses it is usual to take a little walk around the Pall Mall. What’s for dessert? A cream puff, hold the cream.
The powers that be think they’re going to cut out the indoor smoke breaks and on paper, it may look promising.
But these are the Lebanese. They’ve partied through all of their civil wars and see each day as one to be celebrated. Chaos is the norm for them so an edict from the feds will not stop their tobacco appetizers and Lebanani snacks.
Most likely, the ban will have its 10 minutes of fame and then the bars and restaurants will return to their regular smokey selves. People will have to step outside for a non-smoke and this government attempt at order will be swallowed whole by the normal chaos that the Lebanese love and enjoy.
By Brett Weer
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