The Iranian coroner’s office reports that 53 people have died in the past seven months due to alcohol poisoning. Coroner’s office spokesman Kambiz Soltani said this represents a 31-percent decrease from the same period last year.

Soltani said bogus alcoholic drinks are sometimes produced and distributed, and that can lead to the occasional case of poisoning, which could be fatal.

Despite a ban on the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks since the Islamic Republic was established more than 30 years ago, recent reports indicate that one million Iranians consume alcohol, a 30-70 split between women and men.

Drinking alcohol is punishable by 80 lashes, and repeated offences can carry the death penalty.

Statistics show, however, that strict laws against alcohol consumption do little to reduce consumption.