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Meera Shamma 03 Jun 2017

5 Years Since The Smoking Ban, Lebanon Still Ranks Third Smokiest Nation In The World

In 2012, the Lebanese Cabinet passed Law 174 – which was intended to limit cigarette and tobacco consumption in Lebanon. Law 174 introduced the outlawing of smoking in closed spaces in Lebanon, most apparently in bars and restaurants throughout Beirut. It also introduced the concept of displaying health warnings on all forms of tobacco products in hopes that such warnings would deter smokers from their addiction. Since then, the law has been notoriously disregarded, especially in terms of smoking being permitted in closed spaces, and Lebanon has since been ranked as the third most tobacco-addicted nation in the world.

Lebanon entered the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on December 7, 2005. The international convention advocates for the separation of governmental ties to the tobacco industry. But Lebanon’s government still shows little support towards alleviating Lebanese people of their most dangerous addiction, even banning useful tools that have since been introduced around the world to help smokers quit, such as e-cigarettes.

The WHO just released data from 2015 that puts Lebanon to shame: stating that we are still one of the world’s top 3 most cigarette-obsessed countries, with China being the world’s number one. Being the world’s biggest cigarette consumer means that Chinese people smoke an average of 11-12 cigarettes per day. In Lebanon, the statistic of cigarette consumption per day, per person, amounts to 8-9 cigarettes, which amounts to more than 3,000 cigarettes, per Lebanese person, per year.

In a country that is so deeply fragmented politically, religiously, and socially, it’s a sad reality that we should be united in a statistic of this nature, one that labels us as a people who are, above all, an emblem of the world’s most tragic addiction. The Independent, a leading British news agency, stated that “smoking will kill up to a billion people worldwide this century, unless governments across the world stamp down on the half-trillion-dollar tobacco industry.” At this pace, it’s frightening to contemplate how many of those people will be Lebanese if nothing is done to alleviate the people of their addiction, and if nothing is done to eradicate the concept of smoking as a widely-celebrated ‘cultural’ aspect of what it means to be Lebanese.