On August 9, 2023, the Iraqi Ministry of Health indicated that it faces difficulties in implementing its Anti-smoking Law, which was passed by the Iraqi parliament in 2012. The ministry has called for more cooperation among different government bodies to implement the law in public places and government buildings.
The Ministry of Health, which has previously reported that Iraq has a high death rate from smoking-related causes, has faced widespread criticism for its inability to implement the law, “especially within institutions, clubs, rest houses, and means of transportation throughout the country.” The director of the Anti-smoking Division at the Iraqi Ministry of Health, Abbas Jabbar, has refuted this criticism, stating that the Anti-smoking Law was adopted by the Ministry of Health solely “as a technical body,” and its implementation is the responsibility of all government institutions. Jabbar emphasized the need for the relevant ministries to “assume their role and responsibility in preventing smoking in institutions, departments, and agencies” and for setting controls to eliminate smoking in closed public places, on public transportation, and in clinics, offices, and markets.
In contrast, Iraqi academics and researchers accuse the Ministry of Health of not being “serious” about implementing the Anti-smoking Law, with Professor Ali Al-Saeedi claiming that the worsening leniency in implementing the law’s punishments since its adoption has caused the ministry’s current difficulties in applying the law and resulted in such an increase in the number of smokers in the country, especially among children and youth, that “smoking in state institutions, hospitals, other departments, and public places has become a very normal issue.”
Law No. 19 of 2012 on Combating Smoking
Law No. 19 of 2012 was issued on March 7, 2012. The main objective of the law is to protect people’s health from the danger of smoking and reduce the number of smokers by setting anti-smoking standards. (Law No. 19 of 2012, art. 2.)
The law imposes a complete ban on smoking inside the following places:
- All government buildings, hospitals, health clinics, airports, public and private companies, and factories.
- Cinemas, theaters, hotels, clubs, restaurants, meeting and event halls, work offices, and commercial markets.
- Air transportation for domestic and foreign flights.
- All gas stations. (Art. 4.)
The aforementioned places must designate special sites for smoking outside those places. (Art. 5.)
The law prohibits the sale of cigarettes to minors. (Art. 6(2).) Additionally, shops that sell cigarettes or tobacco must display health warning signs about the dangers of smoking. (Art 6(3).)
Individuals who violate article 6(3) are punishable by a fine of 250,000 Iraqi dinars to 1 million Iraqi dinars (about US$190 to $755). (Art. 16.) Whoever smokes in the public places is punishable by a fine of 10,000 Iraqi dinars (about US$7.55). (Art. 17.)
George Sadek, Law Library of Congress
August 29, 2023
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