The recent law banning smoking in public places, approved by the Iraqi parliament last week, has generated a mixed reaction among citizens.
Some citizens praised the new law while others called it a "restriction on freedoms".
The law, which was passed February 2nd, bans smoking inside government institutions, such as ministries, offices, and commissions, and private entities, such as companies, factories, theatres, cinema houses, hotels, clubs, restaurants, meeting and assembly halls, offices, commercial markets, fuel stations, and public and private transport facilities.
People caught smoking in public places will be fined 10,000 dinars ($8).
Government offices and private companies must designate specific smoking areas that are located at a suitable distance from non-smokers. Violators of this regulation will be fined 250,000 Dinars ($200).
"The law does not violate any freedoms," said Hassan al-Jubury, member of parliament's health and environment committee.
"We do not prohibit smoking, but we are trying to limit this practice in a civilised way so that a smoker will not threaten the health of others who are non-smokers, and inflict harm on them," he told Mawtani.
Dr. Mohammad Jabur Huwail, deputy director general of public health, told Mawtani the new anti-smoking law will "support our efforts to curb smoking, which are focused on raising awareness and education through the media on the dangers of this practice and its negative effects on public health and the environment."
"The last survey the ministry conducted showed that the percentage of smokers between the ages of 25 and 65 years is 21%. Among men, it is about 30% while among women it is less than 10%," Huwail said.
"The rate of mortality among those suffering from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and respiratory infections, as a direct result of smoking, or indirect inhalation of cigarette or water hookahs [shisha] smoke, ranges between 60% and 80%, depending on the severity and type of the disease."
Samer Ahmad, 46, said, "I suffer from chronic respiratory problems. I quit smoking a long time ago after my health deteriorated, but I have not recovered fully. I am often surrounded by the smoke of smokers whether it is in a bus, at work, or even at a public place."
"I wish there would be regular monitoring and enforcement of the law so that it will produce tangible results."
Abeer Laith, 29, said, "There are many posters inside the bank where I work urging people not to smoke, but many of the customers will not discard their cigarettes until they are personally asked to do so."
"Smoking in public places is considered an uncivilised practice, and smokers are subjected to the rule of law in civilised countries. We should enforce all the steps and effective measures to curb smoking."
Shaker Jalil, 37, a smoker, said he was dismayed with the passage of the law.
"Have all our problems ended and there is nothing left but smoking as the only problem?" he asked. "Officials should find speedy solutions for problems such as electricity, services, and unemployment before thinking about banning smoking."
Furat Abbas, 35, who owns a restaurant in Karrada, said, "I serve my customers shisha after they finish eating and make good money from that. The new law will hurt me and others like me because it bans smoking of flavoured tobacco in restaurants."
Mohammad Waleed, 31, said, "The law contradicts the articles of the constitution because it places excessive restrictions on personal freedoms by banning smoking even in restaurants, assembly halls, and social clubs."