Edited Nov. 18 2013 – in red below.
Even though smoking in public areas has been recently banned in Lebanon, with 41% of Lebanese people being smokers, many argue that this law was built to fail. Article 174 came into force in Sept. 2012 banning smoking in public areas including restaurants and bars. Like many other laws in this schizophrenic country, they serve better at stuffing drawers rather than impacting change. It does not help that enforcement has been patchy. This explains why compliance of business venues dropped from 90% right after enforcement to an estimate of 40% six months later according to the Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI). There are no official statistics on how many fines, which range from $90 to as much as $2,700, have been handed out and how many of those have been actually paid. (Law 174 – No Smoking Lebanon provided me with the following stats after they read this blog post: “the number of fines given is about 4500 as of the end of October, though we don’t have exact data about how many were paid.”)
- I spent one month in Lebanon for LebMASH related work in June 2013. It was refreshing to go out and not bring back home the smell of tobacco on my hair and clothes. People however were still lighting up inside. The law is apparently not well enforced.
A group of anti-tobacco advocates took upon themselves the mission of helping authorities better implement law 174. A Facebook page was dedicated to the cause. A hotline was created to report violations. Concerned citizens can upload photos and videos directly from their phones to tip authorities.
With low prices of cigarettes (A pack of cigarettes cost $1.60 or less, depending on the brand, with the cheapest available for only 50c.), patchy enforcement of 174, poor compliance of business owners, cultural permissiveness of smoking, lack of awareness about the risks, Lebanon will continue to suffer the gravid personal and public health dangers of smoking.
How does smoking impact you!?
Besides the obvious role of smoking in heart attacks, strokes, and numerous forms of cancers, here is a list of more common outcomes that are less spoken about:
When it comes to acne, smokers are more likely to grow those pesky little red bumps. Smoking can cause the skin’s blood to weaken, resulting in an increased risk of infections, according to the Cancer Society Finland.
Smokers are more likely (at least double the rate) to develop blood clots when compared to non-smokers.
A smoker’s skin can also suffer from lighting a cigarette. Skin can look unhealthy and chemicals found in cigarettes can make the skin’s elastic fibres snap easily — causing your face to look more elastic.
A woman who smokes is more likely to have hair on her upper lip due to inhaling substances with nicotine.
This doesn’t sounds so good: according to a poll conducted by the Cancer Society of Finland, at least 20 per cent of couples ended their relationships because of smoking. Bad breath is never appealing.
Your sex life could get a little boring. Smoking can effect the liver which in turn can effect your estrogen and hormones levels, according to the organization.
It’s the return of the black lung. Smoking damages the lungs and makes it more difficult to breath. The organization also found that smokers can’t run as long as non-smokers.
The yellow smile reveals all. Besides the bad breath, a smoker’s teeth stains easier and develops discolouration.
Women who are pregnant should also stay away from smoking. Harmful chemicals found in cigarettes can travel through the umbilical cord to the fetus.
Smokers can also easily develop peptic ulcers in their stomachs.
Click on each photo below to see how that person would have looked like if they smoked!