Nell’agosto 2011 il parlamento libanese ha approvato la legge n. 174 impone, entro un anno, ai luoghi pubblici di attrezzarsi per assicurare aree no-smoking ai propri clienti.La multa per i trasgressori, esercenti e clienti, è fissata a un minimo di 135.000 lire libanesi, circa 80 euro.
Il quotidiano in inglese The Daily Star ha fornito una prima preziosa lista dei ristoranti, dei pub e dei caffé dove è già possibile sedersi senza morire asfissiati. O quasi. La lista è aggiornata al 1 febbraio 2012 Invitiamo i lettori a segnalarci altri locali di Beirut dove è già in vigore la legge.
Aggiornamento del 3 marzo 2012: Non si fuma anche a Zaatar w Zeit di Sodeco e, ogni lunedì, in tutti i ristoranti e caffè del centro commerciale dell’ABC di Ashrafiye.
- Tawlet Souk el Tayeb/ Mar Mikhael
- Kaiten sushi/ Hamra
- Classic Burger Joint/ Sodeco
- Brgr Co./ Sodeco
- Soto sushi/ Hamra
- Le Sushi Bar/ Monot
- Ginette/ Gemmayze
Caffe e pub
- Starbucks/ All branches
- Gloria Jean’s/ Hamra
- Café Younes/ Hamra
- Columbus/ Ashrafieh
- Théa de Café Najjar/ Jal el Dib Highway
- Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf/ Hamra
Di seguito l’articolo del Daily Star, apparso il 1 febbraio 2012, che accompagna questa lista.
Although Lebanon has yet to fully implement a nationwide smoking ban due to take effect in September, some establishments have taken the initiative to forbid smoking of their own accord – and well ahead of time.
“When you enter a coffee shop, you should smell coffee – not smoke,” explains Serge Khatchikian, manager at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Hamra Street, which has been smoke-free since it opened last year.
He acknowledges he has received complaints from smokers who want to light up indoors, particularly in the winter. However, he has gotten an almost equal amount of praise from non-smokers who are happy to find one of the few places in Beirut where they can enjoy a cup of tea indoors in a smoke-free environment.
“In my opinion, we should stay smoke-free,” Khatchikian says, even though their policy has caused some customers to migrate across the street to Costa, a phenomenon that occasionally prompts him to consider creating a small smoking section. But he says proudly, “I don’t want to lose the happy customers.”
Lebanon’s nationwide smoking ban, signed by parliament in August, requires all indoor establishments – including restaurants, bars and cafes – to forbid smoking indoors, and makes it the third Arab country (after Syria and the United Arab Emirates) to promulgate such a law.
The law stipulates that if businesses fail to prevent their costumers from smoking, they will be fined, as will individuals who violate the ban. It also makes tobacco advertising and promotion illegal, and requires pictorial warnings covering 40 percent of cigarette packages.
This follows the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, signed by 168 countries (including Lebanon) in 2005, which requires all signatories to take stricter measures against tobacco consumption.
Lebanon’s move is also the culmination of years of campaigning by activists to impose smoking bans in public places.
“We’ve done a lot of work in getting the policy into place and working with civil society. Now we’re working to spread public awareness,” says Rima Nakkash, coordinator of tobacco control research and the tobacco-free initiative at the American University of Beirut, where smoking was banned indoors in 1999.
For the past several years, she and her colleagues have been working with cafes and restaurants in the district of Ras Beirut to help make their establishments smoke-free.
Meanwhile, some places have voluntarily instituted their own in-house ban on smoking.
“It was the natural thing to do. It went without saying,” says Rima Abushakra, co-owner of Dar, a Bistro between Hamra and Clemenceau that opened in July.
Her awareness of Lebanon’s lack of smoke-free areas began three years ago, when her pregnant sister-in-law visited Beirut from the United States. To get around the smoky restaurant environments, the family would go out to eat ahead of the dinner crowd, at around 6:30pm.
Abushakra says she believes Dar’s policy hasn’t affected business. The restaurant tends to fill up nightly despite being located at the end of a small alley.“When we created Dar, we created a place we wanted to go to,” Abushakra says. She adds, “One thing that’s refreshing is we don’t have any non-smoking signs. We just don’t have ashtrays on the tables.”
In fact, despite some restaurants’ concerns that the impending law could hurt business, several establishments with non-smoking policies have reported an upsurge in lunch and dinner guests.
“A lot of people are concerned about the economic impact. But I think these fears are not justified. I’ve talked to businesses, and they say that if a restaurant is non-smoking, people don’t tend to lounge around, so profits go up because of the high turn-around,” says Wael Hmaidan, executive director of IndyACT, a Beirut-based environmental NGO. “When you have a drink and smoke, you stay a lot longer.”
He notes that after France and the UK banned indoor smoking, people continued going to bars and restaurants, just as they had before.
“Once you get used to it, you can’t go back,” he says.
Le Sushi Bar, in Monot, imposed its own indoor smoking ban last month, in an effort to prepare their customers for the impending official smoking ban.
Le Sushi Bar’s shift leader Yahya Husseini reports that the results have been better than expected.
“So far, most of our customers are happy,” says Husseini. “Even smokers tell us they like having dinner in a clean atmosphere.”
Hmaidan is working with AUB and the ministry of tourism to raise awareness of the law, encourage early implementation and train people to enforce it.
Meanwhile, some of Lebanon’s universities have implemented their own anti-smoking regulations ahead of the official ban.
AUB banned smoking indoors in 1999, the Lebanese American University campus became smoke-free last year, and students at Notre Dame University-Louaize are currently campaigning to enforce an existing but unenforced smoking ban.
“We, as an institution, should be setting the pace and be leading by example so that not only our students, but also the general community can see our university as a role model with respect to promoting a healthy and safe workplace,” says Eugene Sensenig-Dabbous, a political science professor at NDU and a supporter of the student-led initiative.
He adds, “When the law finally goes into effect it will most likely have zero impact unless there are people on the ground pushing for its enforcement.” ***