26 October 2012

Banning smoking in restaurants ended up banning eating there too

Most people have supported the smoking ban law, which went into effect on September 3. Why? To put it simply: Because it promised something for nothing, and who wouldn't want that? Everything will stay exactly the same except that there will be no smokers around you, the thinking went. Sounds like a great deal!

Of course everybody loves Santa Claus... but some tend forget that he doesn't actually exist.

By forcibly distorting a restaurant's clientele demographics—a key element in any restaurant's resource/profit model—the government had no idea how much damage it was causing. In fact, some government officials even argued that the law would increase revenues. As if government bureaucrats know how to boost a restaurant's profits better than its owner! (Arrogance has no limits) But less than two months after the law's implementation, the smoking ban is devastating the restaurant industry. That comes as a surprise to those who don't know basic economics, and as highly expected to those who do.

Here are some of the consequences so far:
  • A 30% drop in revenues for some tourism businesses (on top of the 40% drop caused by the bad security situation).
  • A significant drop in revenues at the Casino Du Liban.
  • The closing of Outar restaurant in Monroe Hotel and of the Buddha-Bar in Beirut (hundreds will lose their jobs).
And more bad news is on the way.

So please, next time a politician promises you something for nothing, tell him there's no such thing as a free lunch! (pun not intended)

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