Yesterday, I visited a public institution in Lebanon to accomplish a personal task. Once I entered from the main door, what did I see? A fog of cigarette smoke was covering the entire room. Its odor was extremely disgusting. I could hear the sound of the people coughing from all over the building. Others were complaining that they had allergies, but no one even cared. However my biggest surprise was that the civil servants were smoking under the large no-smoking signs that covered several areas in that building. After seeing all these violations, I angrily told a smoking civil servant that his act was against the law. His answer was: “What law?” with a sarcastic smile on his face. I really wonder, if the public servants are violating the law, then why are other citizens subject to this law?
I also ask every person violating the law: If your son or daughter had an allergy to dust or smoke, would you allow someone to smoke in front of them? If not, why do you disrespect others by smoking in the No-Smoking zone? Another thing that I would like to argue is, it’s very well-known that the smoke of the cigarette doesn’t only harm the smoker, but it also affects all the people residing in the space. Following this, are you free to harm yourself but also have the right to harm others? No. Go smoke in a Smoking zone. According to worldlifeexpectancy.com, the rate of lung cancer-related deaths has increased by 3.81% in recent years. But, do any of these smokers care about this data? Doesn’t seem so.
In addition, where is the role of the government? Yes, it did impose a law which forbids smoking in closed public spaces, under the pressure of our active civil society in Lebanon. However, why doesn’t our government implement this law, and allows corruption to reach its own house?
Even though we are living in a very delicate political situation, the institutions of civil society should never ignore its duties and its role to defend the social, political and economic rights of their citizens and to help them see through the fog of corruption.
Garen Kodalazian is a regional intern at the World Youth Alliance Middle East.