Background: Illicit tobacco trade is focused on Iran as a main target in the WHO’s eastern Mediterranean region. Serial studies of Cigarette Packs Survey with same method were conducted in Tehran between 2003 and 2015 to evaluate consumed smuggled cigarettes. This study as the fourth Cigarette Packs Survey is designed to indicate the trends of illicit cigarette trade in Tehran in the last two decades.
Methods: A cross-sectional household study was carried out in early 2021 in Tehran on 3042 persons who smoked at least one daily cigarette for a year. The sampling method was like the sampling method used in three previous studies. Participants aged≥15 years were asked to reveal their current cigarette pack, which was either legal cigarettes (having governmental label); or illegal cigarettes (without governmental label).
Results: The subjects included 2536 males (83.4%) and the mean age was 39.9±12.1 years; 1854 subjects (60.9%) showed foreign cigarettes and 1188 (39.1%) showed domestic cigarettes; 2705 (88.9%) consumed legal cigarettes and 337 (11.1%) consumed illegal cigarettes. Consumption of illegal cigarettes by gender showed greater use of smuggled cigarettes in males (11.7%vs 8.1%). No significant differences were seen based on the marital and educational status in terms of illegal cigarettes prevalence.
Conclusion: Compare with previous studies, the trend of consumption of illicit cigarettes was decreasing in past two decades. This could be due to new regulation on monitoring cigarette distribution and changing illegal brands to legal as joint production.