BEIRUT: Civil society organizations said Monday around 200 fines have been issued against violators of the anti-smoking ban, urging government ministries to take stricter measures in monitoring law breakers.
“At a time when some restaurants, coffee shops, and clubs act as if the anti-smoking law is nonexistent, the judicial authority continues to issue provisions for law violators from individuals and institutions. Criminal Judge Rony Shahadeh in the Metn region has issued around 200 fines against violators of Law 174; an estimated LL3 million,” the organizations said in a joint statement.
On Sept. 3, the anti-smoking legislation, passed in 2011, went into effect, banning the habit in public places as well as bars, restaurants and cafes.
The law has angered owners of restaurants and cafes, complaining they have incurred heavy losses as a result of the measures and demanding amendments to the bill.
The law has been poorly implemented with many restaurants allowing narguileh and smoking indoors.
The group of activists, which includes the Civil Campaign to Monitor Law 174 and Life Free of Smoking Association, also said that some institutions have been fined despite their "rude insistence on breaking the law.”
The statement noted that repeated violations of the law raise the penalty to imprisonment from one to 6 months in jail and a fine of 10 to 12 times the minimum wage, according to Article 15 of the law.
The organizations also urged the ministries of health, interior, economy and tourism to take stricter measures in monitoring law violations, asking for a meeting with the government officials in order to coordinate efforts.
They added that the meeting with the government was postponed on several occasions.