PM Erdoğan now in tobacco fight

PM Erdoğan now in tobacco fight

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
PM Erdoğan now in tobacco fight

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) attended the conference on May 31, with heavy security measures set around the Harbiye venue. DHA photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took on the issue of tobacco use in the country during his speech on May 31 at an anti-tobacco conference, saying restricting alcohol and banning smoking in public areas had “pleased the public.”

Erdoğan delivered his speech at the the Lütfi Kırdar Convention Center venue, near Harbiye, which was surrounded by police forces and security officials, trying to prevent any interruption from the protests taking place at the nearby Taksim Gezi Park.

Anti-smoking legislation has saved people from falling victim to second-hand smoking, the prime minister said, adding that this was a topic that received great attention from him even back in the early days of his career when he was working as Istanbul mayor.

Erdoğan said places previously used only by “a certain minority” had now been opened to public use.

“We banned drinking, we banned smoking. These places began to fill up. Our people want peaceful places. There is a tyranny of the minority. It is our duty to protect the lawful acts of the minority as well. The fight against alcohol is constitutional,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan said it was wrong to describe the recent legislation as an “alcohol ban.” “Did we ban alcohol? No we did not. We only presented a new framework. This is not an issue of banning anything, but simply drawing a framework for it,” he said.

“What’s essential to us is the benefit of our people. I will not back down from taking steps toward the preservation of my people’s future just because someone’s fun is being interrupted,” Erdoğan added.

Parliament 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.