Ruling party proposes bill banning advertising of alcoholic drinks

Ruling party proposes bill banning advertising of alcoholic drinks

Ruling party proposes bill banning advertising of alcoholic drinks

Turkish craftsmen offer an ayran churn to Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan April 30. Erdoğan had announced harsher measures on alcohol while declaring ayran as the country's 'national drink.' AA photo

A legal proposal further restricting the sale and promotion of alcoholic drinks was submitted to Parliament May 10 by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), weeks after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's harsh statements on alcohol consumption.

The proposed bill bans all advertising of alcoholic drinks and enforces producers to put information on the risks of alcohol on every unit. Bottles or cans that do not carry such warnings will be banned from sale.

Alcohol producers, which used to sponsor many cultural festivals, will also be unable to continue doing so, as alcohol brands and logos of alcoholic drinks will be banned from being displayed at "any event, under no circumstances."

If the bill is approved, education, sports and health institutions, as well as establishments next to highways - such as markets and restaurants - will be prevented from selling alcoholic drinks. Sale via automatic vending machine, telephone, and the Internet will also be banned.

Erdoğan sparked the existing debate on alcohol consumption last month when he declared ayran, the humble salty yogurt-based refreshment that is mixed with water and traditionally sipped with kebabs, to be the "national drink." He had announced harsher measures on alcohol, referring to a provision in the Turkish Constitution encouraging the state to "protect its citizens from harm," including alcohol consumption.

However, the Rakı-Ayran debate took another twist after a group of entrepreneurs engaged in a tit-for-tat with the prime minister by applying to the European Commission Codex in order to patent the aniseed-flavored spirit, a fixture in the historically-rooted meyhanes, as Turkey's "official" national drink.

Restrictions on hookahs

The latest bill also introduces restrictions on hookahs similar to those on cigarettes, stating that smoking hookahs in closed establishments will be forbidden. All establishments in open air should also reserve a space for non-smokers, the bill adds.