Rising alcohol intake in Iran 'worrying': minister

By AFP
Published: May 15, 2012

Iran has banned the sale and consumption of alcohol Since the 1979 Islamic revolution. PHOTO: FILE

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.

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Reader Comments (3)

  • Zamir Malik
    May 15, 2012 - 7:34PM

    That is what happened when you force someone from something then there arises the urge to do that thing as it is a human psychology like that. Just like Pakistan is a winner in Porn searches in the world as the word SEX is a Taboo in Pakistan and in a similar manner in Iran Alcohol is a taboo so there is more urge to consume that. The more the sanctions on the society in my view makes a certain society more pervert and Pakistan is a perfect example of this case.

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  • Kanwal
    May 15, 2012 - 8:38PM

    @Zamir Malik
    I live in London and trust me, he is right when he says increase in drinking can be more dangerous than many other diseases. There is no ban here, still the government has to try hard to raise awareness about this issue here. you want to check how much cost the NHS, UK pays for this ireesponsible and stupid issue. But since the above statement comes from a country like Iran, you have to criticise somehow? thats unfair sir.

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  • John B
    May 15, 2012 - 11:45PM

    Strangely, the public television in America is running a documentary about Prohibition in the US in the early 1920s. Prohibition costs an arm and a leg to the govt and ordinary citizens who otherwise are good in all aspects become criminals under prohibition. Rampant corruption, lawlessness and defiance of law and illicit poisoned liquor, death of unsuspected citizens, increased consumption of alcohol were rampant in prohibition era in the US. Oddly, the same social effects are also seen in other parts of the world where prohibition was / is enforced and Iran is no exception.

    Public health education is a better way to keep people away from alcohol as in anti-smoking campaign.

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