There is no end to alcoholic drink debates

There is no end to alcoholic drink debates

An article on the measures the government has been taking to restrict alcohol consumption and possible tax hikes co-authored by Fehim Genç and Mithat Yurdakul was published Aug. 12 in daily Milliyet’s economy section.

In this piece I will provide you with short information on alcohol consumption in the world and in Turkey, sales figures of alcoholic drinks in Turkey in the past 10 years and about taxes levied on alcoholic drinks.

• It is a bad thing that young people have alcohol addiction.

• Alcohol is bad for your health.

• Harms of alcohol should be explained to the public.

• Drunk driving should not be allowed.

• However, after all these, banning of alcohol should not be considered. Whoever wants to drink may drink, whoever does not want to may not drink.

When we come to the figures; according to the World Health Organization (WHO) 2011 figures, annual alcohol consumption per person 15 years and over in Turkey is 2.87 liters. In Western countries, consumption per person varies between 8 and 13 liters.

According to Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Authority (TAPDK) data, figures for per capita consumption of alcoholic drinks are higher than the WHO figures. (Most probably the data provided by the two sources do not match each other because of differences in criteria. The important aspect is the comparison and the ranking in alcoholic drink consumption among countries according to the World Health Organization data.)

Increase in consumption

According to TAPDK data, despite the restrictive measures and increased taxes in Turkey since 2004, beer, wine and rakı consumption has not decreased; it has constantly shown an increase. (Here, what needs to be noted is that total consumption has increased not per capita consumption.)

My friend, economist Mustafa Sönmez is good at evaluating figures and interpreting developments in economy. With his interpretation, while inflation, in other words consumer price increase has been 113 percent since the beginning of 2004, the price of rakı has increased 272 percent, beer 218 percent and wine 163 percent.

Taxes are high

Taxes levied on consumption of alcoholic drinks are on autopilot. As inflation goes up, taxes are up also. While the Special Consumption Tax (ÖTV) for alcoholic drinks collected in 2010 was 3 billion Turkish Liras, in 2011 this figure was 3.8 billion liras and in 2012 it was 4.6 billion liras.

Not only in fuel oil, but also in taxes levied on alcoholic drinks Turkey is a world record breaker. Locals and tourists consuming alcohol in Turkey pay three times more tax than in Sweden, the country that seems to have the highest tax on alcoholic drinks in the world.

The consumption of rakı, even though its price has increased 272 percent with the taxes in the period 2004-2012, has gone up from 44 million liters to 50 million liters. Especially with the effect of incoming foreign tourists, wine production and consumption are increasing. In 2008, while 38 million liters of wine were consumed, in 2012, it is estimated that this figure exceeded 60 million liters.

Güngor Uras is a columnist for daily Milliyet, in which this piece was published on Aug 14. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.