ABC’s Chairman, Mr. Fadel Fadel opened the discussion by mentioning the previous ABC campaigns and ABC’s commitment to give back to the community. He spoke about the recent launch of the Lebanese Designers corner and how several campaigns stressed on kids issues like autism. Mr. Fadel also announced that a breast cancer campaign will be launched soon. He also stressed on the fact that ABC was initially a place for kids and has become a place for families.
Besides announcing that ABC will be a smoke-free environment, he mentioned that for the time being there is only an exception for restaurants as per the law. But he decided to go further and announced that all restaurants would also be smoke-free on Mondays.
Minister of Public Health Mr. Ali Hassan Khalil started his speech by saying that he never touched a cigarette during his entire life and that the statistics concerning Lebanon were really sad. Smoking has become the number one cause of death claiming thousands of lives every year. He also expressed his relief that the law made progress and that bad habits will need to change gradually.
Minister of Tourism Mr. Fadi Abboud said that changing bad habits should start with politicians and has to be applied through out the bodies of the states including the soldiers on our streets. He also reminded people how they believed it would not be possible to implement a non-smoking law in the airport and they were proven wrong. Mr. Abboud refused the clichés saying that an increase in the price of the pack of cigarettes would allow the black market to take off and that Lebanon is just a country for wealthy tourists. According to him, smokers are costing the Ministry of Health a great deal; therefore an increase in price is totally justified.
Minister of Environment Mr. Nazim El Khoury encouraged smokers to reconsider their choices and hoped their number will decrease.
The official launch was nice: A tube with the colors of a cigarette would be cut in half releasing balloons. The event was followed by an non-smoking oath taken by students and a performance by rapper Ghost.
So now, practically, whenever you spot someone smoking where they are not supposed to, you can report it to the security staff who will be responsible of handling the situation.
ABC’s initiative is great but it will definitely need to be heavily reinforced.
The press release goes as follows:
ABC, the leading retailer in Lebanon, launched today its ‘Smoke Free Environment’ campaign becoming the first shopping mall in Lebanon to implement the tobacco control law. The campaign, headed by ABC Chairman Mr. Robert Fadel, was launched in ABC Achrafieh and attended by the Minister of Public Health Mr.a Ali Hassan Khalil, the Minister of Tourism Mr. Fadi Abboud, and the Minister of Environment Mr. Nazim el Khoury and supported by ‘Tobacco Free Initiative’ (TFI), celebrities, VIPs and members of the press.
Starting the first of March, ABC will implement the tobacco control legislation number 174 to become a non-smoking mall, except restaurants and cafes as stated in the regulation. However, ABC is launching ‘Happy Smoke Free Monday’, extending its non-smoking initiative to the restaurants and cafes every Monday, as a preparation phase to implementing the law, in an effort to raising health awareness and creating a health-oriented culture amongst the Lebanese society.
“ABC has been part of the Lebanese community for 75 years and we believe in giving back to this community” said Robert Fadel, Chairman of ABC. “ABC is the ultimate family meeting destination, thus, helping our customers, especially the teenagers, quit smoking is our responsibility and we hope to set the good example for other corporations to follow our lead in order to contribute in making Lebanon a healthier country”, he explained.
Implemented to make ABC experience more enjoyable for more people, the ‘Smoke Free Environment’ campaign will play a major role in supporting the implementation of the anti-smoking law. Professional trainers from TFI conducted an anti-smoke educational session for all ABC and tenants employees to educate about the benefice of this campaign so they will in return educate the mall visitors.
Taking leading steps by implementing the law, ABC is also implementing an educational program by setting focal points in its store to educate its customers about the danger of smoking while also developing a digital campaign on all of ABC’s social media channels to target the young generation.