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Iran’s Tobacco Products Use Rises Amid Low Taxes and High Profits

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According to the head of the National Tobacco Control Secretariat at the Ministry of Health, the low price of tobacco products and low tax rates have resulted in significant profits for tobacco producers in Iran. During a press conference on National No-Tobacco Week on Saturday, June 5, he revealed the latest study on tobacco consumption in Iran conducted in 2021.

The study indicated that 14% of the population uses tobacco products, with 4.44% being women and about 26% men. He noted that tobacco use among women has increased. From 2016 to 2021, tobacco use rose by approximately 3% among men and 11% among women over 18. Hookah use also increased by about 54% compared to 2016.

Vali-Zadeh highlighted the alarming increase in tobacco use among women aged 18 to 24 by 90% and among men in the same age group by 34%. He also addressed the 50% tax rate discrepancy between Iran and the global average. According to the World Health Organization, Iran’s tobacco product tax rate is 25%, while the global rate is around 50%. The 2021 value-added tax law set a 25% tax rate for Iranian cigarettes and 40% for foreign brands.

Iran Proposes Increased Tobacco Products Taxes and System Reforms to Curb Smoking

He continued, explaining that tobacco taxes should increase by 5% annually, but this has not happened. The seventh development program aims to set a 15% tax on Iranian cigarettes, 25% on foreign brands, and 50% on imported cigarettes. The 75% retail tax should be included in the program, ensuring that the retail tax system is effective.

Vali-Zadeh emphasized that cigarettes are unfortunately considered a household staple. He suggested removing cigarettes from household budgets and increasing the 15% tax on Iranian cigarettes. He hopes that mechanizing sales centers and integrating them into the national tax system will reduce tobacco availability. Currently, the tax rate on cigarettes is a percentage paid by the final consumer, but the manufacturer should pay it.

Tobacco Products

Iran Targets Tobacco Products Profits with Stricter Controls and Public Awareness Campaigns

Vali-Zadeh pointed out that low tobacco prices and low taxes have led to massive profits for tobacco producers. He also mentioned that insufficient penalties for violations of the Comprehensive Tobacco Control Law and weak public education and awareness about the harms of tobacco use and secondhand smoke are significant factors driving increased tobacco consumption.

The head of the National Tobacco Control and Combat Secretariat at the Ministry of Health emphasized the ban on online tobacco sales. Recently, the Minister of Health sent a letter to the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, proposing a ban on tobacco use in domestic media. The judiciary has also been involved in preventing tobacco use in films. He noted that 63 cities and villages in Iran are tobacco-free. Various efforts are underway to combat tobacco use, including educational content produced by students in schools. The media is also being asked to support these initiatives.

 

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Resource: Iranian Students News Agency, May 26, 2024

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