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Iraq considers unpopular smoking ban

BAGHDAD, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- In Iraq, where it seems nearly everyone lights up, smoking is so pervasive many find it inconceivable that government wants to ban it in public, officials say.

A bill before the Iraqi Parliament would make it unlawful to smoke in government buildings and public indoor areas. Most residents interviewed by the Washington Post apparently don't like the idea.

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"We all have to deal with anger issues here," one Iraqi citizen said. "That's the reason people smoke here, to run away from that."

People chain-smoke everywhere, observers say -- in hospitals and restaurants, at weddings, funerals and after bombings. Only a few other countries in the region, like Israel and Jordan, have taken steps toward smoking bans.

As for Iraq, other radical changes are reported under consideration. Officials are said to be looking over proposals to regulate the Internet and satellite television channels to ban pornography and to more tightly control alcohol sales.

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