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New alcohol rules trigger call for sober assessment in Turkey

ISTANBUL – Daily News with wires | 1/13/2011 12:00:00 AM |

New restrictions on alcohol and drinks advertising have prompted sober damage control by the government following heated debate and confusion about the new rules.

New restrictions on alcohol and drinks advertising have prompted sober damage control by the government following heated debate and confusion about how far new rules would go to curtail sale and consumption of beer, wine and spirits.

According to clarifications made by Turkey’s ruling party and the Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Authority, or TAPDK, about the new regulations, alcohol can be served by catering firms at open-air weddings only if the venue where the event is being held is licensed to serve alcohol outdoors. Otherwise, the alcohol must be provided by the host of the event, rather than the catering firm, daily Radikal reported Thursday.

The sale of alcohol will be banned at municipality-owned establishments and along roads designated as highways and state routes in the traffic code, officials said. Answering questions raised by the public, they said there was no provision in the regulation regarding alcohol sales at venues in coastal zones.

The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is a strong backer of the new regulations, which also restrict sports teams from using the names of alcoholic drink brands in their squad names. The public has expressed concern that this change may require the closure of the well-known Turkish basketball team Efes Pilsen, which was established by a major brewery firm and uses the name and logo of the company’s most popular brand of beer.

The team submitted alternative names Thursday to the TAPDK in order to prevent the club from closing. The two candidate names to replace “Efes Pilsen” are “Anadolu [Anatolian] Efes” and “Efes Sports Club,” according to a report Thursday by daily Milliyet. Efes is the name of a place in Turkey as well as a brand of beer.

Authorities said over the few past days that the new regulation aims to protect public health and the well-being of children and young people. As a result, alcoholic-drink brands will no longer be allowed to advertise or display their name or symbol at events targeted at children or youth.

The Efes Pilsen Blues Festival, the first and only blues festival in Turkey and a long-running tradition for 20 years, will not be allowed to continue unless its name is changed so as not to contain any elements of the alcohol brand name. Alcohol will still be allowed to be sold at events such as festivals and fairs as long as written permission is received.

“Our lawyers are still examining and analyzing the effects the new regulation will have on our firm,” a representative of Efes Pilsen told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Thursday.

Giving out free alcoholic drinks as a gift, prize, sample or promotion will be banned under the new regulation, though there is no provision affecting whether consumers can order alcohol to be delivered to their home. Sales of alcoholic drinks in containers of 20 centiliters or less will not be allowed in shops, markets or places that sell dried nuts and fruits.

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