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POLITICS > Turkish Parliament adopts alcohol restrictions, bans sale between 10 pm and 6 am

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Parliament’s General Assembly has adopted a highly controversial alcohol bill proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), tightening restrictions on the sale and advertising of alcoholic beverages, despite strong objections against the bill on the grounds of personal freedom and respect for lifestyle choices.

The proposal was swiftly put on the agenda, despite the protests from the opposition, and was eventually adopted early in the morning of May 24 following debates which ran on past midnight. The AKP has acted remarkably fast in bringing the legislative package to the agenda of Parliament’s General Assembly, within a period of a mere two days.

According to the bill, retailers will no longer be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The opposition parties strongly criticized the amendments, arguing that such a ban should not include touristic regions. “[Alcohol] banned during night prayers, but allowed during morning prayers,” a Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy said about the proposition.

The head of the Planning and Budget Commission, Lütfü Elvan of the AKP, said that such restrictions were in place in many Western countries. “This approach of night prayers and morning prayers saddened me. In Sweden, [the retail sale of alcohol] is forbidden after 7 p.m. on weekdays, 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 24 hours on Sundays. There are similar restrictions in all Scandinavian countries,” he said.

“No one can be forced to drink or not to drink. This is a religious and ideological imposition,” Musa Çam, a deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said. “This is not a struggle against the ills of alcohol but an attempt to re-design the society according to their beliefs and lifestyle,” he added.

All sorts of advertising campaigns will be completely banned, such as promotions, sponsored activities, festivals and free giveaways. The only exception will be the international fairs aimed at international marketing of the alcoholic beverages.

Violators of the advertising ban will be punished with financial penalties ranging from 5000 to 200,000 Turkish liras.

Under the bill, alcohol companies would no longer be allowed to promote their brands and logos, these can only be used as part of service inside the facility.

Additionally, all liquor bottles sold would have to display warning signs about the harms of alcohol, again similar to those found on cigarette packages.

London-based spirits company Diageo, which entered the Turkish market by acquiring Mey Icki in 2011, released a statement on May 23, saying that it shared the government’s concerns about alcohol consumption but that it was seeking a meeting with officials to “present alternative views” on “fair, balanced and responsible” regulation.

In TV series, films and music videos, images that glorify the consumption of alcohol will be prohibited. Images of alcohol would be blurred, the same way as cigarettes are being blurred at the moment.
BDP deputy Murat Bozlak also demonstrated their disapproval of the bill as he said “Nobody has the right to impose the monotype lifestyle on the society.”

Alcoholic beverages will not be allowed to be purchased from vending machines. Beverages could not be sold from see-through shop windows and cannot be sold to be consumed outside the facility.

Student dormitories, health institutions, sports clubs, all sorts of education institutions and gas stations will be banned from selling alcohol. Already acquired licenses to sell alcohol will remain intact, yet to get new ones, facilities are required to be located outside the perimeter of 100 meters of educational and religious centers.

Those who want to get licenses to sell alcohol from the Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Authority (TAPDK) will be conditioned to get the license to open up a business from the municipality and then a tourism document from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Before granting a license the municipalities will get the opinion of the authorized law enforcement forces.

The alcohol limit for drivers has also been decreased from 1 to 0.5 promil. If the driver is to exceed this limit, they will be penalized with a fine of 700 liras and their driving license will be seized for a period of six months. Smoking while driving is also prohibited.

May/24/2013

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READER COMMENTS

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Mark Plimmer

6/3/2013 4:07:37 AM

The current unrest in Turkey is an indication that the AKP is not ruling in a way that the people want. The only way to show that their laws are not wanted is to vote them out at the next election. That is democracy in any country, with any religeon.

Bagudu Bagudu

5/26/2013 9:34:43 PM

no big deal, I will spend my holliday in Greece in stead of Turkey. During the songfestival the Greeks were even singing that alcohol was free.

Craig Evans

5/25/2013 6:17:48 PM

I first read this in a UK newspaper. My first impression was that all alcohol was banned past 10:00 pm. Further investigation revealed that its not to be banned in bars and restaurants etc. Is this true? If so that is ok but it is not how it is being reported abroad which will unfortunately effect tourism.

nyob nyobb

5/25/2013 5:52:42 PM

Sweden has actually eased its restrictive policies on alcohol sales, but still suffers organized smuggling. If that´s what the government wants?

Pawel Bury

5/25/2013 10:12:41 AM

@Sinan, you 're not a nationalist but you honor those who fought and conquered the Byzantium? Either you had too much Aryan or you have to go to school. A real one not an Islamic.

constantinos kio

5/25/2013 9:48:32 AM

people are free to do what they like . thats why they elected the goverment , if they want to ban alcohol they just can do . we respect their choise . they respect our choises also .

Burak Miron

5/25/2013 8:38:47 AM

Two things. 1- At 09:59 people will just load the tables with drinks to last the night. This will cause an increase in booze sales. 2- If I understand correctly the law refers to 'SELLING' of booze not SERVING it. So if you but a bowl of olives or chips and get a free Beer with it no one has broken the law.

young genius

5/25/2013 5:08:24 AM

@Sinan Osman "AKP is only building Pro-Islamic Democracy Nation." That's why, Islamic Republic.

bedir pala

5/25/2013 3:40:51 AM

i don think it is going to be implemented but if it is it will only cause blackmarket sales with double price

Ata Dizdar

5/25/2013 2:54:07 AM

Does Turkey know about what happened during the USA's alcohol prohibition in the early 20th century? Doesn't look like it.
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