POLITICS > Turkish PM vows harsh action against alcohol

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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

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

Sevim Songün Demirezen Sevim Songün Demirezen sevim.songun@hurriyet.com.tr

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.


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Notice on comments

Suhail Shafi

10/3/2013 9:14:17 PM

Mr Erdogan is trying to restrict drunk driving and underage drinking as well as introduce warning signs with alcoholic beverages. These sound a lot like the regulations existing in many Western countries, including here in the US and fall far short of an Iranian style outright ban. I agree with the comments by Mr Bogosian and Sam Cole.

Jessy Jhonson

6/1/2013 8:45:12 PM

And finally they will loose all their tourists. This is what I call "Islamic fanaticism" or even "Islamic ultras". This year in Istanbul we couldn't find a room for smokers in our hotel and we payed a lot of money to smoke outside in the street during rain. We will not pay anymore money for their lack of respect for our lifestyle. If it's forbidden to smoke in my room I rather find another country for holidays.

D Bogosian

5/21/2013 8:01:29 AM

The best argument against this being a move toward "Islamist Republic' is that these 'new' restrictions are straight out of America's playbook (where I was Agency CD on AnheuserBusch's Intl Adv account).It's REVENUE, not RELIGION driving such decisions (see 'optimal tax revenue and inelastic demand' and the DUI Services Industry). If you must see a hidden agenda in direction PM is taking the country, consider its Americanization. Erdogan is following the Moolah, not the Mullah.

D Bogosian

5/21/2013 6:34:40 AM

Obviously, this isn't about being a good 'Islamist.' It's about being a 'good' politician. You pick the fastest way to dramatically increase revenue while meeting the least resistance at either end of the argument. Erdoğan SAYS it: 'this [taxation on alcoholic beverages] is our most important source of income...' So the worse thing people can do from this perspective is to STOP drinking. He really doesn't want people to STOP drinking—that's just what politicians SAY when implementing a Vice Tax

Michael Johnson

5/20/2013 9:22:16 AM

What a load of rubbish. If you really want to find revenue that spans the entire society, why not tax tea? We all know what the PM's agenda is here, but he treats everyone as stupid.

sam cole

5/13/2013 2:20:32 AM

Seems to me Turkey is following the same road as Canada with their alcohol taxes and advertising bans, and nobody jumps on Canada's back about being Islamic

Geir Fugleberg

5/2/2013 3:52:50 AM

Drinking and driving in T is a problem bcs the police do not take it seriously! Anybody who has driven home at say 2am on a saturday clearly see that a huge proportion of the cars are going at abouth 20kmph in a not very staight line,theese drivers are all drunk. In spite of this you can see the ever present T police cruising by whitouth ever stopping these drivers. Unlike any other country the police do nothing unles they are told so,this bcs the stoped person might be conected!!!

Brit in Turkey

4/30/2013 6:14:21 PM

cezer: Sorry for the confusion. My posting above was meant for the other "ayran" news. So much for adequate control of my bookmarks!

cezer "çapulcu" skonore

4/29/2013 5:24:24 PM

Brit in Turkey: ..."Oh, yes! Ayran - all fat and salt for cholesterol and a heart attack. Eat and drink everything in moderation Mr. PM. Does anyone know if the PM smokes? How many in his party smoke?".... You posted this under the other "Ayran" news. I agree with you that Ayran may not be a healthy drink although it can be made from nonfat yogurt with less salt also. BTW, Erdogan is a staunch unti-smoker, he has imposed a series of smoking bans in Turkey, for which I applaud him.

Brit in Turkey

4/29/2013 12:37:47 AM

My comment did not get posted as I suggested that ayran, full of fat and salt, was a good way to high cholesterol and a heart attack when drunk regularly in high quantities. There was also medical evidence a while back that a glass of red wine per day was beneficial to good health. Moderation in all things, a balanced diet and exercise are the keys for most of us. Are there statistics on the death rate in Turkey due to smoking?
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