In a major coup for public health and safety the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has banned smoking, alcohol, and guns in the provinces it conquered just days ago, the International Business Times reports.
The Sunni militant group, which seized control of Iraq’s second largest city Thursday and is pushing toward Baghdad, “has a surprisingly sophisticated bureaucracy,” according to the Atlantic. “In Raqqa, they forced shops to close for selling poor products in the suq (market) as well as regular supermarkets and kebab stands—a move that was likely the work of its Consumer Protection Authority office.”
— Julie (@MsIntervention) June 12, 2014
ISIS explained its opposition to smoking back in January after conquering the Syrian province of Raqqa, calling it a “slow suicide” and saying that “every smoker should be aware that with every cigarette he smokes in a state of trance and vanity is disobeying God.”
Smoking is not categorically banned in Islam, although some Islamic leaders have issued tobacco fatwas prohibiting cigarette and hookah consumption — possibly under the influence of foreign anti-tobacco NGOs.
The Iraqi government had repeatedly tried and failed to institute smoking bans in public places, much to the ire and confusion of many Iraqis. “We want Saddam back,” said one Iraqi in 2009, when the government first tried to bass the pan. “You could do anything during Saddam’s time.” As the Washington Post noted at the time, the ban was likely motivated by a desire “to shake off Iraq’s image as a battle-ravaged, lawless country.”
The militants have gained control of the region with astonishing celerity, taking cities in fractions of the time it took US forces during the Iraq War. “Tuesday saw ISIS overrun Mosul in one night as security forces fled the city,” noted National Journal correspondent Kaveh Waddell. “The coalition campaign to take the city in 2004 took over a week and failed to stabilize the city.”
Smoking bans are increasingly popular in the United States, with an estimated 80% of Americans living under a ban in “workplaces, and/or restaurants, and/or bars,” according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. “If you want to live longer and healthier…come to New York City,” said Mayor Bloomberg in 2011, crowing about the increased life expectancy of NYC residents in the years after his landmark smoking ban. Maybe that’s what the Jihadis had in mind.