On July 9th, 2019, a joint meeting was held at the office of the Iranian Anti-Tobacco Association (IATA) with the presence of the officials of the NGO and a member of the Council on the Expurgation of Rules and Regulations in the Iranian Parliament. At the meeting, IATA’s officials called for the cancellation of the inquiry on the removal of the name of hookah lounges from the list of public places, the formation of a fraction in the Iranian Parliament regarding tobacco control and prevention, and parliamentary oversight of tobacco-related laws ratified by the Parliament.
The meeting was held with the presence of Hujjat-al-Islam Hassan Malek-Mohammadi, the member of the Council on the Expurgation of Rules and Regulations in the Iranian Parliament, Hujjat-al-Islam Seyed Hassan Mo’in-Shirazi, the Chairman of IATA’s Board of Directors, Mohammad-Reza Masjedi, IATA’s Secretary-General, as well as IATA’s Parliamentary Representative and Executive Director.
It was announced at the meeting that most of the members who should attend parliamentary sessions regarding tobacco control – such as the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Police, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Health – have not been present at these sessions. The attendees called for following the approvals of the previous meetings of the headquarters.
Also, the issue of allocating government currency for importing cigarette paper and tobacco was discussed and criticized in the meeting. According to the Undersecretary of the Department of the Interior, 173 trillion Tomans had been spent on combating drugs in the year 2016, which is about 10% of GDP. According to him, drug use in school students has increased by 4 to 5 times, and 90% of addiction cases start with tobacco smoking. It was also argued that people should vote for the parliamentarians who support the community health and not tobacco companies.
Hujjat-al-Islam Malek-Mohammadi, the former representative of Damghan County and current chairman of the Astan Quds Razavi fraction, announced the readiness of the Parliament for collaboration with IATA and said that all available capacities in the country should be tapped to fight tobacco. According to him, the issue of comprehensive sanctions by the United States and, at the same time, the export of cigarettes to Iran is a security, political, and economic issue which requires serious measures.