Lebanon smoking ban sparks protests

  • A ban on smoking in enclosed public places came into effect in Lebanon on Monday, resulting in sit-in protests by several restaurant and cafe owners.

    The ban covers bars, restaurants and cafes popular for serving traditional shisha, also known as hookah or water pipes.

    The law was passed last year and is already enforced in airports, schools and hospitals.

    Those who break the ban face a $90 fine while cafe owners could be fined up to $2,700.

    Smoking, which is banned in public in much of Europe and the United States, is prevalent in Lebanon.

    Daily smoking is more common among Lebanese adults in comparison to any other country in the Middle East, according to the World Health Organization.

    Around 45 percent of men and 30 percent of women are estimated to be regular smokers.

    Advertising and sponsorship by tobacco companies is also banned under the law and 40 percent of a cigarette packet must now be covered with health warnings.