Tobacco use in Iran has increased by seven times during the past decade, growing from 2,000 tons to 15,000 tons [presumably per year], according to a story in The Tehran Times quoting the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) and the vice chancellor for social affairs at Tehran University of Medical Science.

“It is necessary to devise plans to prevent and control the widespread usage of tobacco in the country,” Abdolrahman Rostamian reportedly said on Tuesday.

The vice chancellor said that, in many countries, high taxes were levied on cigarettes to control tobacco use, and that the same policy should be adopted in Iran.

“Currently, tobacco tax revenue for the next Iranian calendar year [starting March 21] is estimated at 28 trillion rials (about US$666 million) but it should grow to 150 trillion rials (US$3.5 billion),” Rostamian said.

“In most countries, tobacco duty rate is up to 75 percent, but in Iran it is only 20 percent. This is among the issues that the members of Iranian Parliament should pay special attention to.

“Currently, there are 16 tobacco factories in the country and up to 100 trillion rials (US$2.3 billion) are annually spent for purchasing cigarettes. To make … matters worse, 35 trillion rials are annually spent for treatment of the diseases that are caused by smoking.”

According to Rostamian, 90 percent of cancers are caused by smoking cigarettes. Smoking accounted also for 25 percent of heart failures that resulted in death and was a risk factor in osteoporosis and bone fracture, he said.

“It is more than necessary to reduce the supply of cigarettes in the country,” he was quoted as saying. “We should come up with policies to ensure that people under 18 are banned from purchasing cigarettes. Besides, only the suppliers who have a special license must be allowed to sell cigarettes.”

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