Posts Tagged ‘Anti-Smoking Campaign’

Thank you for not smoking!

October 30, 2009 1 comment

Wednesday night was an almost smoke-free night on Gemmayzeh Street in Beirut. Around 35 pubs and restaurants took part in the “Ain’t No Smoking 2nite” campaign, an initiative by Rotaract Club. Rotaract Club is currently trying to push the authorities “to provide a non smoking section in every pub, bar, restaurant, café or public place” in Lebanon. There’s an online petition that can be signed to support this cause. I didn’t get to go to Gemmayzeh on Wednesday to see the atmosphere first hand, but I came across the following article which I thought I’d share with everyone. 

Beirut’s smoke-free night draws widespread public support

From the Behavioral Health Central


Courtesy of © Maya Zankoul

It’s Wednesday night in Gemmayzeh, and busy too: blue clouds loiter above large groups of revelers, bunched up outside clubs and bars on what is usually a quiet night for Beirut’s party hub. Despite the crowds, inside the majority of the many venues the air tonight is unusually clear – because on October 28 there “Ain’t no smoking” in Gemmayzeh.

Some 35 clubs, bars and restaurants  throughout the street took part in “Ain’t No Smoking night;” a Rotaract Club initiative to encourage venues to consider regular smoke-free nights, and raise public awareness about the risks of second-hand smoke. 

One of the Rotaract Club’s organizers, Patrick, said the objective of the campaign was to give nonsmokers comfortable places to go out and enjoy themselves without having to breathe in second hand smoke. 

“It is about rights for nonsmokers” he said, “We hope some of these bars will adopt a weekly nonsmoking night to attract more nonsmokers to the area.” 

Abbas, another Rotaract organizer, said that many more pubs and restaurants have participated in the event compared to the last one they threw and noted that lots of people had turned up especially for the smoke-free event. Abbas also said that they have “even found many smokers to be encouraging of this idea and giving us their support!” 

Carmen and Mira, two regular smokers standing outside “Mue” agreed with Abbas. 

“We think it’s a good idea. We don’t have to suffer the second hand smoke of others,” said the pair. “Even though we smoke ourselves it’s good to get away from such a smoky environment. We hope a permanent ban happens, like many European countries.” 

Another smoker added: “It means fewer people will smoke, especially the youngsters.” 

However, not everyone on Gemmayzeh agreed. 

“I should have the freedom to smoke where I want. If they want to improve people’s health they should install better ventilation systems,” said Rashad, a regular smoker.

It is not just the patrons that hold strong opinions on the issue.

“Personally I hate smoking but our bar cannot afford to force its customers not to smoke on the premises. Wednesday is our busiest night and people do not like change,” said Tony, from the Melting Pot – one of the few bars not participating in the smoke-free night.

“A lot of our customers are heavy smokers and it would be very harmful for business to overlook that fact,” he added.

Not all business owners agreed with Tony’s sentiments. Abir from Olio said that she thought the night was a good initiative. 

“Most places in Gemmayzeh don’t have good ventilation and after a long night it can get very annoying breathing in lots of smoke,” she said. “A lot more people would go out if smoking was banned as they would feel more comfortable not having to breathe in passive smoke.”

However, she also noted that considering Lebanon’s strong views on the matter, a ban would be highly unlikely to occur any time within the next five years, at least.

While there were definitely mixed opinions on the subject, most people seemed to enjoy themselves.

In a country known for its heavy consumption of tobacco, most people seemed to adapt to the smoke-free night well and no one tried to break the rules.

The smoke-free bars packed to weekend capacity suggest there may be hope yet for a smoke-free Lebanon. However, for the time being at least, initiatives like this are the closest nonsmokers are going to get.