Turkey to launch new anti-smoking campaign: Minister
Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
Turkey will launch a new anti-smoking campaign in the coming months after an increase in the number of smokers has been observed, the health minister has said, vowing a struggle with the tobacco industry through new regulations to stipulate closed and special chambers for smokers in cafes and restaurants.
“We are working on a new effort against smoking because the number of smokers increased after inspections were hindered in public places,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told Hürriyet Daily News in an interview on Jan. 30.
The numbers increased to 44 percent among men and to 19 among women in recent years.
The overall percentage of smokers has increased from 27 to 32 percent in recent years, Koca said, despite a wide anti-smoking ban imposed in public places.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan personally has long been endorsing the anti-tobacco campaign but the smoking industry is finding new ways to increase the consumption, the minister said.
“The industry mulls how to increase the consumption. They pushed for water pipes after inspections against smoking in cafes or restaurants intensified. They campaign that electronic cigarettes are harmless, although the situation is the other way around. They promote slim cigarettes for women’s consumption,” Koca explained.
They are trying to approach the youth considering they are long-term consumers and the women as role models, he said. “They are introducing smoking as part of a modern life and culture. That’s why we should also fight these efforts of the tobacco industry.”
The new campaign to be unveiled in a couple of months will display smokers as “second-class people” in the eyes of the public opinion as they get portrayed to consume their tobacco products in not very desirable places in the public space just like in the rest of Europe.
“The best places and seats of cafes and restaurants are reserved for smokers. These places are offered to 30 percent smokers while 70 percent non-smokers are seated in the back side of restaurants,” he said.
“Thereafter, there will be special closed chambers for smokers in restaurants. This space will not be larger than 30 percent of the place. It will have a special entrance with strong air-conditioning. Smoke will never be emitted and will have a special licensing. The same will apply for water pipes as well,” Koca explained.
This new regulation will be implemented at the airports and other public places, he added, vowing an intensified inspection into these places once new regulations begin to be implemented.
Anti-addiction struggle to continue
Turkey’s fight against smoking will also include efforts to decrease drug and alcohol addiction through the establishment of new medical centers and facilities for social adoption of addicted persons.
“A failure of social adoption of a person whose addiction problem is successfully cured causes the resurrection of the problems. A rehabilitation process will be applied to those people after the treatment process. It will include vocational training and socialization,” the minister said.
The first facility to this end was opened in the Erenköy district of Istanbul and the second one will be opened in Tuzla, also in Istanbul, Koca said.