Turkish PM vows harsh action against alcohol
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
The measures against alcohol should not be regarded as an attempt to change modern lifestyles or remove secularism, says Prime Minister Erdoğan. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed today to introduce new measures in the fight against the consumption of alcoholic beverages including price increases. However, he also said this should not be considered an “obstacle” to particular lifestyles or secularism.
“If the prices are increasing, excuse us, but we have to. In the ÖTVs [the Special Consumption Tax], this [taxation on alcoholic beverages] is our most important source of income, as we don’t have any oil wells. That’s why we are working on this,” Erdoğan said, speaking at the Global Alcohol Policy Symposium held in Istanbul on April 26.
He also revealed that the government was working on increasing the penalties for those who cause death by drink driving, increasing the prices of alcoholic beverages, introducing warning signs on alcoholic beverages, and limiting alcohol advertising.
“We are working on measures to limit the advertisement of alcoholic beverages in newspapers. It will soon be accomplished,” said Erdoğan, adding that such advertisements were “misleading for the youth.” He said the 58th article of the Constitution ordered such measures to be taken, saying that the state must take the necessary measures to protect youth from alcoholism, speaking at the Haliç Congress Center.
The prime minister said the government was working on a study to implement warning signs on alcoholic beverages similar to those already implemented on tobacco products in Turkey.
Erdoğan also suggested that price increases in alcoholic beverages would continue. “If the prices are increasing, excuse us, but we have to. This [the taxation on alcoholic beverages] is our most important source of income,” he said.
He also criticized drink driving for claiming the lives of “innocent people who do not drink and drive,” promising to change the current situation in which he said those who cause deaths in traffic accidents while drunk are easily released from the prison. “We are working on this. It cannot remain this way,” Erdoğan said.
He said other measures had already been taken to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages in the campuses of educational institutions, such as universities, and also stressed that the government had banned the sale of alcohol to under-18s.
Erdoğan said some “disgusting” people would attack him on the issue, but expressed his determination to not stop working “for the health of the people.” He also said the measures taken against alcohol should not be regarded as an attempt to change modern lifestyles or remove secularism, arguing that such confusion came as a result of “the Cold War mentality and ignorance.”
Meanwhile, Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu criticized municipalities that organize festivals which sell alcohol. “As the world works to decrease alcohol use, unfortunately some local leaders are offering the attraction of alcohol to young people by organizing festivals such as, ‘There is life in the street’ or ‘Octoberfest,’” Müezzinoğlu said at the morning session of the same conference.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan praised the efforts to decrease the consumption of alcohol and tobacco products in Turkey, saying that the prime minister had been a good example with his enthusiasm on the issue.