Iraq's cabinet has approved a draft of the war-torn country's first laws to restrict smoking and to halt cigarette advertising, the government said on Thursday.
The draft aims to bring to an end a laissez-faire attitude to cigarette smoking that endured through the totalitarian dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and years of fighting since the 2003 US-led invasion that overthrew him.
Advertisement"The purpose behind approving the draft law to fight smoking is to protect the people from the social, health, environmental and economic risks of smoking," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.
"The draft law will ban smoking in public areas. Smoking will be prevented inside ministry buildings, educational institutions, health facilities, airports and companies in all provinces," Dabbagh said.
"Smoking will also be banned in theatres, clubs, meeting rooms, offices, and all private and public transport."
The draft legislation also bans smoking for under-18s and cigarette advertising in "all media", with fines of five million Iraqi dinars (4,300 dollars) and suspensions for media who break the law, Dabbagh said.
Smoking is widespread in Iraq, with a packet of cigarettes costing only around 500 dinars and cafes providing "sheesha", as water pipes with flavoured tobacco are known, popular in cities and towns.
More than 41 percent of Iraqi men and nearly seven percent of women are smokers, according to the World Health Organisation.