But following the lead of New York, London, Paris and scores of other Western cities, Iraqi lawmakers are now trying to push smoking to the margins of public life here, to the frustration of many of their constituents.
On Sunday, they are set to consider a law that would ban smoking from schools, universities, government offices and a wide range of private businesses, including restaurants and cafes. Billboards advertising cigarettes, which wallpaper commercial districts of Baghdad, would be outlawed. And cigarette companies would be forced to print harsher warning labels.
“This is an important issue,” said Jawad al-Bazouni, a member of Parliament’s Health Committee, which is pushing for the restrictions. “The citizen can complain to the smoker. He will get the law on his side, and it will be reflected in the public health.”