The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Iran takes on tobacco smuggling

Iran government official destroying illegal cigarettes © Mahdi Marizad FARS News Agency

Article 15: illicit trade

Iran’s government recently destroyed 180 million illegal cigarettes, worth $560,000, south of Tehran in an effort to combat tobacco smuggling.

Since Iran implemented health warning labels on cigarette packages in early 2009 and increased tobacco taxes, the country has experienced an unprecedented influx of smuggled tobacco products.

Although health warning labels are essential for reducing smoking rates, measures need to also be implemented, especially in developing countries, to combat tobacco smuggling, said Iranian Anti Tobacco Association research manager Dr  Ali Abdolahinia.

“It’s possible that illegal tobacco products increase in countries that have recently implemented health warning labels on cigarette packets because of smokers finding ways to get rid of labels (in Iran some people use a cover to hide the labels), and policymakers’ inconsistency with dealing with  contraband tobacco products,” Abdolahinia said.

To combat these problems, Abdolahinia recommends that all legal and judiciary organisations prevent all unlabeled tobacco products from being sold, and take legal action if necessary, such as Iran’s destruction of the illegal cigarettes.

According to Abdolahinia, destroying smuggled cigarettes ensures the cigarettes do not return to the market after they’ve been detected, and it sends a warning to smugglers about the outcome of their illegal activity.


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