By: Mir M.Hosseini
A flyer signed by Mirza Mohammad Hasan Shirazi, circulated the streets of Tehran that asked cancellation of the Tobacco concession in 48 hours or prepare for the consequences. The flyers were asking people to prepare for jihad. During his third visit to Europe in 1890, Naseroddin Shah known for debauchery ran out of money. Major Talbot, a close friend of the British Prime Minister used the opportunity to strike a strange deal known as the Regie Concession, according to which the Shah sold the monopoly of the tobacco trade in Iran.
The news created turmoil inside Iran leading to a fatwa by religious leaders to ban smoking completely. The effect of this movement also fueled by Russians who were not happy with British influence reached to a degree that water pipes were broken even inside the royal court and demonstrations took place in Shiraz, Tabriz and Isfahan. The Shah soon retreated and accepted to cancel the concession on Dec, 18. This was the first time that public opinion showed its force against Shah and made a sample for the Constitutional movement. When the British were informed of the annulment on Jan, 5, 1892, Iran agreed to pay 500,000 Sterlings in compensation to the British.
Amazingly, Shah decided to pay debt by debt. The money was borrowed from the British owned Imperial Bank of Persia on May, 15, 1892 with a yearly interest rate of %6. Income from South customs was pawned as assurance.