Iran has for the first time, admitted the Islamic Republic has a problem with alcohol, while sentencing two men to death for drinking alcohol, which is strictly prohibited in Iran.
But even as officials acknowledge the problem, the government continues to treat drinking as a sin and a crime. Both had violated the nation's three-strikes law; having been caught three time consuming alcohol. One of the men sentenced to death said he is hopeless and wishes for the end while another clings to hope his sentence will be commuted to life.
Neither men were accused or convicted of anything other than consuming alcohol.
In his comments — the first time such a high-ranking government official had acknowledged widespread drinking in Iran — Larijani, whose brother is the country's powerful parliament speaker, said alcoholism now merits more attention than diabetes or heart disease.
And last month, at a ceremony marking the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Health Minister Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi announced, "We have prepared a road map to treat alcoholism and reduce the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the society."
Amnesty International has protested the death sentences saying neither crime meets the international standard of a "capital crime".
Iran has an estimated 200,000 bootleggers and smugglers, an industry estimated to be worth $800 million in Iran.
Iran still has less "problems" than western nations as it continues to maintain that there are no gay or homosexuals in Iran.