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Iran parliament refuses to lift state monopoly on tobacco

Iranian MPs on Tuesday refused to approve a bill on lifting state monopoly on tobacco, which would otherwise have allowed tobacco growing and producing factories to be ceded to private entities, IRNA reported from Tehran.

Members of the cultural and social as well as health commissions of parliament were among the opponents calling for the industry to be under control, given the negative impacts of tobacco consumption on the mental and physical disposition of the public.

Proponents argued that the bill could have done away with the smuggling of cigarettes, which they say amount to one billion dollars in illegal trade each year. According to officials, about 70 percent of cigarettes consumed in Iran are smuggled into the country.

Fifty billion sticks of cigarettes are annually consumed in Iran, of which only 15 billion are locally produced.

In June, Iran's Ministry of Health and Medical Education banned tobacco advertising amid reports that death related to smoking was on the rise.

The ban came as tantalizing promotional items about several foreign-made cigarettes splashed across some of the country's widely-circulated newspapers.

The ministry's statement warned that according to the state law, advertising tobacco and tobacco companies in any form is forbidden.

The ban came right on the heels of the Islamic Republic's signing in Geneva the anti-tobacco treaty which aims to prevent five million deaths every year.

According to the treaty, the signatories should ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, including cross-border publicity, within five years.

An official has said that over 50,000 people die every year of diseases related to tobacco smoking in Iran and warned that the figure could rise to as many as 200,000 if a suitable solution is not found.

Iranian Tobacco Company last year finalized a multi-million dollar agreement with four major foreign cigarette manufacturers, namely Germany's Reemtsma, British American Tobacco (BAT), Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and South Korea's Tobacco and Ginseng Company.

... Payvand News - 7/29/03 ... --

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