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IRAN: McCain cigarette joke smolders in Tehran

July 13, 2008 |  9:40 am

U.S. Sen. John McCain made a wisecrack last week describing reports of increased American cigarette exports to Iran as a way of killing off Iranians. It was just a joke, the presumptive presidential candidate insisted immediately afterward.

Bahman_03Today, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Hosseini responded to the comment, and he was not smiling at all.

Mohammed Ali Hosseini said the Iranian government regarded the comment as ugly and immoral, "especially for someone who intends to lead a country claiming civilization," according to a report carried by the Fars News Agency:

"We condemn such jokes and believe them to be inappropriate for a U.S. presidential candidate. It is most evident that jokes about genocide will not be tolerated by Iranians or Americans."

On Wednesday, McCain responded to a question about American cigarette imports to Iran by saying, "That's one way of killing them."

He quickly insisted that he meant it as a joke, as someone who quit smoking 28 years ago.

Iran has no plans of discouraging smoking on the home front. According to the Fars News report, the country hopes to increase domestic cigarette production from 26% to 75% over the next two years.

Borzou Daragahi in Tehran

Photo: A pack of Iranian-made Bahman cigarrettes. Credit: Cigarettespedia.com

P.S. The Los Angeles Times issues a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East. You can subscribe by registering at the website here.

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