Controversial ‘alcohol ban’ bill passes commission
ISTANBUL – Anatolia News Agency
DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIKA draft bill restricting the sale, consumption and advertisement of alcohol has passed from a parliamentary commission on May 22, after long and heated debates.
The Turkish Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission’s bill forbids any kind of commercial promotion of alcoholic beverages.
The bill also requires alcoholic beverage producers in Turkey to put warnings on bottles about the potential damage of alcohol to the human body, similar to those already applied on tobacco products. This warning message can be conveyed in a graphic or in a picture, while text in Turkish about the damage of alcohol will also be carried on the beverages. The sale of alcoholic beverages not carrying these messages will be banned.
The bill also bans the sale of alcohol in any establishment near schools or mosques. Critics had said this would make serving alcohol impossible in any of the cities’ main entertainment locations due to the vague definition of “educational institution” and the large number of mosques. Alterations, however, have redefined “educational institutions” according to a narrower list and excluded proprietors who have previously obtained liquor licenses, as well as certified tourism establishments.
Businesses holding tourism certificates will not be affected by the regulation, but petrol stations will not be able to sell alcoholic beverages anymore.
With regard to advertising, the new law says that any campaigns, promotions or activities encouraging the use of alcoholic beverages are banned, apart from national and international sector fairs and events. Firms that sell, produce or import alcoholic beverages will not be able to sponsor any organization by using their emblem, brand signs, except national or international sector fairs, scientific publishing and activities, and sector organizations. Violators of the law will be fined up to 500,000 Turkish Liras.
Those who want to get certificate to sell alcoholic beverages from the Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Authority (TAPDK) will have to get a business license from municipality or provincial special administrations, or they will have to get a tourism operation license from the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
Alcohol will not be allowed to be served in student’s dormitories, educational institutions, health establishments, stadiums, indoor sports halls, tea houses, patisseries, bridge halls, or restaurants and shops located at gas stations.
The restaurants, cafes, cars or night clubs that have a certificate to sell alcoholic beverages will be able to use servicing products with alcoholic beverage brands, emblems or logos. However, those who produce, sell or import alcoholic beverages will not be able to distribute gifts, promotions, or give incentives. Those under 18 will not be served alcoholic beverages and they will also not be employed in the production, sale or marketing of these beverages.
Although the law was revised after criticism that it would affect people’s lifestyles, Tahir Berrakkarasu, the co-chief of the Beyoğlu Entertainment Businesses Association, said establishments without a tourism license would be unable to serve alcohol outside. Berrakkarasu stressed that tables outside entertainment businesses in Beyoğlu had recently been removed, and that establishments may be fined from 5,000 to 200,000 liras if any customer goes outside to smoke with a glass of alcohol in hand, according to the new law.