Alcohol consumption in Tehran 'worrying,' official says
From online dispatches
Members of a smuggling group stand near boxes in a tent as they prepare to move during an alcohol-smuggling operation to Iran, at the border near Sulaimaniya. REUTERS photoThe consumption of alcohol in Tehran has reached "alarming" levels, despite the ban that has been in effect since the Islamic Revolution, Al-Arabiya reported on its website today.
Iran's Deputy Health Minister Bagher Larijani said they had received reports from hospitals concerning cases related to high alcohol consumption.
Larijani said the reports mentioned alcohol-related cases coming from "popular neighborhoods south of Tehran," adding that alcohol consumption was also "high" in some other parts of the country.
The deputy minister said people needed to pay more attention to the "problem of alcohol" rather than diseases like "diabetes, heart illnesses and vascular problems."
Alcohol consumption seems to have increased in Iran in recent years, Al-Arabiya's report said, despite the severe penalties against the production, consumption and trafficking of alcohol. The consumption of alcohol was banned in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, except for Christian minorities.
Official numbers show 60 to 80 million liters of smuggled alcohol entering the country yearly, with only 20 million liters being seized by the authorities. The alcohol black market was estimated at $730 million by a representative from an "anti-trafficking" movement.
Besides the smuggled alcohol, some areas in Iran secretly manufacture their own beverages, which is cheaper but more dangerous, resulting in dozens of deaths every year.