Lebanon Businessnews News

Restaurants vow to suspend smoking ban
Protestors urge amendment of anti-tobacco law
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Leaders of tourism and leisure business associations announced that they would suspend the implementation of the smoking ban within their institutions. “We have agreed to temporarily stop enacting the (anti-tobacco) law until the economic situation improves,” said Tony Rami, secretary of the Syndicate of Restaurant Owners.

Owners and employees of restaurants, cafés, and night clubs held a demonstration Wednesday (November 7) protesting the anti-smoking law. They called on Parliament to suspend the law, adopted in August last year, pending the introduction of amendments that would alleviate its impact on their businesses.

“The smoking ban worsens our already ailing businesses,” said Rami. He said that the anti-smoking law has decreased the revenues of the sector: “We are currently making 25 percent less than our turnover last year, which was nearly 38 percent less than its 2010 level.”

Recommendations underlined several law amendments, such as special exemptions and permits for hookah cafés, whose business relies chiefly on tobacco smoking, as well as for nightspots. Suggested reforms also include allowing restaurants to have special zones for smokers. “We are strongly counting on the action of some Parliament members who are actually calling for amending the law,” said Rami.

The law, which calls for a complete ban of smoking in all closed public places, has set heavy fines for violators. Any smoker in a closed public place, such as a restaurant, has to pay a $90 fine. The restaurant owner has to pay a fine ranging between $700 and $2,000.
Reported by Rana Freifer
Date Posted: Nov 07, 2012
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