Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud stated two days ago that restaurants infringing the country’s smoking ban would be closed as authorities upgraded their calls for tougher execution of the law. “The tourism authorities have released 1,391 fines against offenders of Law 174 and this specifies to how significantly government is checking,”

Abboud stated after a press conference. Abboud, who requested more interministry collaboration to examine the execution of the law, informed restaurant and cafe proprietors that the government bodies were serious about shutting businesses that infringed the legislation. “Proprietors of establishments who keep on their infringements will certainly be closed,” Abboud mentioned. The law, which has infuriated restaurants and cafe owners for causing deficits to their businesses, become effective last year after a rather long range of discussions in Parliament. Not so long ago, civil society companies stated that individuals and other non-hospitality sector institutions were the major victims of the crackdown.

The groups stated that a single judge in the Metn had released about 200 fines against offenders of Law 174, including fines of around LL 3 million, but that the penalty passed on tourist could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

An activist, Ali Fakhry, explained that the hold off was as a result of the lack of the tourism police and the slow bureaucracy of the Justice Ministry. “We require the Justice Ministry to quicken the methods of providing the fines against offenders,” claimed Fakhry, a representative of a local nongovernmental organization. Fakhry also added that activists have obtained reports that several tourism police officers have took bribes from infringers of the law. “The execution of the law is in risk since we have obtained reports that the police are taking bribes from proprietors of cafes so that they won’t be offered a fine.”

Several restaurants that have ignored the smoking ban are well-known restaurant chains that claim they would bear large losses if they enacted the law inside their institutions.

At the meeting, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel stated that restaurant proprietors should identify the benefits of Law 174 for community health. “Russia has also passed a smoking ban in all public spaces,” Charbel stated. Charbel mentioned that establishment owners at this time worrying about the law had one year in reserve before its execution to take the mandatory steps to fulfill the conditions. “They should have been organizing appropriate areas in the course of that period, rather than moaning about the timing of the law.”