TEHRAN: Iran is worried about the rise in the consumption of alcohol in Tehran and others regions of the Islamic republic, a senior health official said on Tuesday.
“We sometimes get reports from hospitals and doctors on the consumption of alcohol from neighbourhoods in the south of Tehran which are worrying,” Deputy Health Minister Baqer Larijani was quoted as saying in the local media.
“In some regions of the country, the consumption of alcohol is high,” he added without naming the regions.
Larijani said Iran had to pay more attention to this issue than to diseases such as diabetes or even heart problems.
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has banned the sale and consumption of alcohol, although Christian minorities are exempt from the prohibition.
Despite severe penalties under the Islamic penal law, 60 to 80 million litres of alcohol are smuggled into the country each year, according to officials, who add that police manage to seize only about 20 million litres.
An official at the anti-smuggling bureau said in early 2011 that the value of liquor smuggled to Iran was around $730 million per annum.
Iran’s police chief, Esmaeel Ahmadi Moghadam, recently said that the country had some 200,000 alcoholics. He added that 80 percent of smuggled alcohol came from Iraqi Kurdistan.
Alcohol is also covertly manufactured in Iran, often resulting in deaths due to the spurious methods used to produce the liquor.
Iranian police have also started levying heavy penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol, with offenders liable to a fine of $120, confiscation of their driving licence and even criminal prosecution.