Here, in Israel, it is now an emergency condition. You know, Iraq, Saddam Hussein, bombs, weapons of mass destruction, chemical attacks, etc etc - the usual.
Long already (before the last Gulf War at 1991) we got those chemical gas protection masks from Pikud Ha'oref - the military division responsible for citizen safety and protection for emergencies. Every few years we had to take them to renewal at some station nearby to make sure that they are still good. These days many have to take them along where they go (according to some conditions put by the government).
It was pointed out to me by a co-worker that there is some social effect of everybody now taking those masks everywhere. I started to really notice it around later.
You see, everyone has their first name on the carton box containing their gas-mask. Standing at a queue to the entrance, or just walking around, you instantly know the name of most everyone in front of you.