Prohibition of alcohol in New Year’s gift baskets ‘interference in lifestyles’: Prosecutor
Oya Armutçu – ANKARAA Council of State prosecutor has asked for the annulment of a controversial ban on selling alcoholic beverages in “New Year baskets,” gift packages of drinks and snacks sold at supermarkets during the last weeks of the year, criticizing the practice as an illegal interference in lifestyles.
Turkey’s Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Authority’s (TAPDK) cited concerns over public health in a ruling that was published in the Official Gazette on Nov. 5, 2015, triggering mixed reactions from both the sector and society.
The Ankara Bar Association filed a lawsuit at the Council of State to reverse the administrative arrangement, saying it is “clearly an illegal and unlawful interference in private life and personal preferences.”
A Council of State prosecutor filed a five-page opinion to court, demanding the reversal of the prohibition which it defined as an “illegal and open-ended administrative arrangement.”
The prosecutor acknowledged that the state may take a number of precautions to prevent the youth’s access to alcohol but cannot legally do so when the rights of adults were concerned.
“Natural rights and liberties which are results of the lifestyles of individuals and which do not violate the rights of others cannot be subject to prohibitions,” the opinion said.
“The state cannot intervene regarding who will consume what, and to what extent, except for products which are banned from production or farming,” it added, underlining that the arrangement was an attempt to intervene in individuals’ lifestyles.
The prosecutor stressed that it was against the law for the state to make open-ended arrangements to influence individual and social lifestyles by introducing extensive measures against alcohol consumption.
Ankara Bar Association head Hakan Canduran reiterated that it was beyond the TAPDK’s power to take such a decision, which constitutes an intervention in private life.
“It is an unacceptable restriction on fundamental rights and freedoms for baskets, which are offered to the public by supermarkets from time to time in the form of gift baskets, New Year’s baskets or Ramadan baskets, to be subject to state intervention,” Canduran said.
At the time of the ban’s introduction, the head of the Consumer Issues Association, Aydın Ağaoğlu, slammed the move as a limitation on consumers’ right to choose.
“While the implementation seems positive from a public health perspective, it is akin to state intervention on whether a legal product can be included in a gift package,” Ağaoğlu said.