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It is estimated that, annually about 65,000 Iranians die due to smoking tobacco, either cigarettes or water pipes.
It is estimated that, annually about 65,000 Iranians die due to smoking tobacco, either cigarettes or water pipes.

Tobacco Control Law Gathering Dust

Tobacco Control Law Gathering Dust

The strong association between use of tobacco and a variety of diseases like cancer and early death has long been proven by researchers and physicians. As per statistics published by the World Health Organization, tobacco kills more than 7 million people each year. More than 6 million of the deaths are the result of direct tobacco use; while around 890,000 are related with non-smokers (passive smokers).
It is estimated that, annually about 65,000 Iranians die due to smoking tobacco, either cigarettes or water pipes. Statistics say Iranians spend over 100 billion rials ($2.5 million) per day on smoking cigarettes alone. The figure would be much higher with water pipe expenses included, Qodsonline news website reported.
The smoking prohibition law, which forbids smoking in public places, was ratified by Parliament nearly 20 years ago, and executive instructions for its implementation were issued 11 years ago. However people still freely smoke in cafés, restaurants, bus terminals and other public places.
Implementing rules and regulations for banning smoking in public has seen many ups and downs. During the first term of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-2009), measures taken in this regard were partially successful in some cities. But effective enforcement was soon forgotten or was so slack that it failed  to produce the desired results.
Existence of laws and regulations, powerful enough to address the issue, begs on key question: Why consuming tobacco in public is still commonplace in all cities?
Gholamreza Heidari, head of Tobacco Prevention and Control Research Center blames poor enforcement of regulations as the main reason the problem  lingers on.
“In the course of the past 10 years, neither the Majlis (parliament) nor other executive organizations such as the Health Ministry, Ministry of Industries, anti-drug headquarters and municipalities have taken steps to implement and enforce the regulations. Even the mass media has failed to raise awareness about the issue,” Heidari said.
Mohammad Hossein Ghorbani, deputy at the Majlis Health and Treatment Commission, believes tobacco consumption in public places can easily be controlled by revoking working license of cafés, restaurants, or other places which do not respect the law.
Another challenge in implementing the law, he says, is the existence of “vested interests and powerful covert groups” that oppose higher tax on tobacco.  Given the dangerous health effects of cigarettes and water pipes, heavier taxes must be imposed on tobacco.”
Ahmad Hamzeh, another member of the commission, says for the law to be effective cultural and social foundations must be developed first in order to garner support from the society. “When society itself does not care much about the need to uphold laws it cannot and will not produce the desired results.”

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