Plain tobacco packing hit shelves in Turkey to curb smoking
Turkey continues its drive against the health risks of smoking as the new rule forces all tobacco products and cigarettes to bear plain and standard packages.
A World Health Organization (WHO) report said that more than 8 million people lose their lives every year because of smoking-related diseases.
Yüksel Denli, the head of the Tobacco and Alcohol Department of Agriculture and Forestry Ministry, said that the new regulation is intended to eliminate the attractiveness of tobacco products and boost deterrent effects of packages by increasing visual health warnings.
“The cigarette sales sections in the markets have a combination of appealing elements that encourage, especially young people, to use them, said Denli. “With plain and standard packages, we aim to eliminate their attractiveness.”
The new packages will have one color with a standard formation of brand names and other necessary information, but no logo or other distinctive marks.
Picture warnings, including 14 new warning labels, will cover 85 percent of the packages, which will feature the 171 hotline to help people stop smoking.
Under the new rule, information about tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide release values will be removed from the packages.
Denli said information about release values create a misconception for smokers.
“Less nicotine or tar release values make smokers think that tobacco products are less harmful. We aim to change this wrong idea by removing the information,” he said.
Turkey, example country in tobacco control
With the new rule, Turkey became the seventh nation to standardize tobacco products and cigarette packages, after France, the U.K., Ireland, Norway, Canada and Australia.
“We have a difference,” Denli said. “The other countries apply standardized packages for cigarette and chopped tobacco [cut rag], while Turkey applies it for all the tobacco products. We can say that we are an example to the world.”
Turkey was the first country in 2013 to attain the highest level in tobacco control after adopting MPOWER measures for countries to reduce tobacco use, according to the WHO.
The first legislation in Turkey to create a smoke-free zone indoors went into effect on July 19, 2009, and since then, each regulation have helped reduce the rate of smoking.
Pulmonologist Ali Fuat Kalyoncu said tobacco bans and awareness campaigns since the late 1980s have begun to have an effect on reducing smoking in Turkey.
“Smoking trends decreased slightly each year until 2012, but onwards, cigarette consumption started to increase in the country due to open tobacco sales, increasingly widespread preference for hookah cafes, loosening of bans on smuggled cigarettes, and insufficient controls."
Kalyoncu said a ban on electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products will also help reduce smoking rates.