Of all the social and economic disasters which afflict us, nothing but the smoking ban has moved the Lebanese people into a state of outrage and mutiny. You know, because a free individual has the right to burn their health and money and brain cells with out being bothered by a smoking ban, or so the ban’s opponents’ argument goes. But do smokers give a thought to the rights of non-smokers? No. You, dear smokers, have enjoyed the right to fill our lungs with second-hand smoke for far too long – now our time has come. We will breath fresh air.
And this brings me to the following question: Why, as a people, do we commit to rules and regulations when we’re abroad only? Why do we queue, wait for our turn, hold doors, give our seat to the elderly and the weak? Why do we act civilized everywhere in the world except in Lebanon? The “wayniye ldawle” attitude is not a fleeting phenomenon, it is a wicked tumor that tenaciously grips this country’s brain; we blame all our shortcomings and savageness on some vague entity and then turn around and continue chipping away at our country’s basis.
The argument that the government should take care of more “dangerous” violations first is a fallacious and, dare I say, malicious one: this smoking ban is a dire need in Lebanon especially because of the armed gangs and the lawless activity that’s been plaguing us of late. If we were to put aside the small attempts to reform and improve our day-to-day living conditions until the more “global” issues are solved, then I can assure you, we will never get anything done on neither fronts. And besides, in a more civilized country, 3500 casualties per year caused by smoking-related illnesses would call for a red alert emergency plan, so this is no joking matter.
I wouldn’t be surprised if, tomorrow, smokers and restaurant owners organize a demonstration against the smoking ban. Bya3mloowa. But Lebanon, I beg you, we have enough pollutants and health hazards to worry about as it is, so let’s embrace this simple opportunity of resembling a nation that has the basic requirements of a normal, healthy life.