The Zouk Mikael municipal council initiated an anti-smoking campaign
and banned smoking in its public buildings without waiting for the Lebanese
parliament to address the issue.
with a conference to raise awareness on the dangers of tobacco that took place on February 2, 2010. It was organized by Caisse Mutuelle Laique (Secular Mutual Fund), in collaboration with the Zouk Mikael Youth and Culture Center (YCC), under the patronage of the Minister of Social Affairs Dr. Salim Sayegh, sponsored by the First National Bank and supported by the Rotaract Clubs of Lebanon, Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) and Lebanon Development Union (LDU).
YCC’s director of Programs and Public Relations, Ms. Eliane Fersan explained: “the event is to listen to expert’s opinions, and present the measures undertaken by the municipality of Zouk Mikael the first public sector partner, in adopting and implementing health standards in public administration premises”.
She adds that this is the first measure towards a more global move to ban smoking in all public places in Zouk Mikael, including restaurants, cinemas and commercial outlets. This move, however, will be gradually
implemented to ensure the proper integration and compliance
of citizens with laws and international agreements that must
be put into effect in Lebanon.
On his part, minister Sayegh announced a decision to ban smoking
in the main building of the ministry of Social Affairs.
He added that the State is capable of regulating tobacco cultivation and trade whether import or export; and could also issue legislation on tobacco that would protect nonsmokers. However he also acknowledged significant obstacles, explaining that although the government is responsible for raising awareness and counseling, it does not control free trade or print and audiovisual media.
Therefore, Minister Sayegh said the State couldn’t prevent tobacco advertizing in the media, for it cannot limit public freedom.