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In a Tehran cafe.
In a Tehran cafe.

TEHRAN— The humble water pipe — that traditional contraption often found in the Middle East, designed to ensure a cool and smooth smoke — has been having a tough time in Iran.

Whether that's due to its association with traditional tea shops, which Iran's Islamic authorities frown upon for encouraging idle socializing, or to the health risks associated with it, the water pipe is in trouble, according to newspaper Arman-e Emrooz, which reports an increase in "raids" on tea shops or eateries providing customers with pipes.

In response, the popularity of home-delivery pipes has risen, a phenomenon the newspaper describes as a "new plague for youngsters." The use of water pipes, and their delivery, seems to fall in a legal grey area, as both are widely advertised, Arman reports, detailing the sudden proliferation of fliers for pipe deliveries, including one touting "Fast dood," with a pun on fast food and the Persian word for smoke, "dood."

One coffee shop employee in northern Tehran told the daily that pipe deliveries had increased of late, and "ladies are our main customers, because they cannot freely sit and enjoy affordable pipes in" tea shops.

Another shop owner said he delivers sweets, pistachios and tea with his pipe for an extra fee. He said he typically charges 15,000 tumans (a little over four euros) for a pipe delivery.

It remains unclear at present whether Uber and Deliveroo are around the corner.

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