Iraqi Tempers Ablaze Over Smoking Ban

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 7, 2009 8:40 AM CDT
An Iraqi boy buys cigarettes in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Aug 6, 2009.   (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Smoking is rampant across the Middle East, and in Iraq nicotine fuels everything from high-level government meetings to weddings and funerals. That's why a new anti-tobacco law making its way through parliament is causing huge public outcry, reports the Washington Post. "We all have to deal with anger issues here; that's the reason people smoke," said one man, while another said simply, "We want Saddam back."

Under the proposed legislation, violators of the smoking ban would get hit with a fine of up to $4,300, while smugglers could be penalized twice that. It may not be ratified—a similar bill in Turkey languished after a smoker murdered a restaurant owner instead of putting out his cigarette. "All parliament members smoke," said an angry tobacconist in Baghdad. "If they want to improve our health, maybe they should consider fixing our electricity first."