Turkish Health Ministry prepares action plan to raise legal age for tobacco sales to 21
The Turkish Health Ministry has prepared an urgent action plan to raise the minimum age from 18 to 21 for the sale of tobacco products in an attempt to reduce smoking and other tobacco use among youth. The relevant action plan also brings a ban on marketing and tobacco sales, as well as the Turkish water pipe or nargile, within 500 meters of schools and dormitories, daily Sözcü said on July 14.
The action plan also seeks to impose “more deterrent” punishments on those who do not abide by the legal regulations on selling tobacco products to the youth, to the point that the selling license of the relevant enterprise can be revoked.
Police forces will conduct “regular inspections” to make sure the tobacco control law is effectively implemented.
All tobacco retailers will have to insert a camera in their shops and will be obliged to show police forces the relevant footage without permission from a court upon demand during inspections. This will make sure retailers ask for customer identification to prove they are of legal age, the action plan reportedly said.
No advertising or display of tobacco products, including their logos, will be permitted on any items, such as appetizers, toys, t-shirts, or bags, and in such a case, the selling and distribution of these items will be banned.
Turkey started legal means to fight against smoking in 1996, but a smoking ban took full effect in 2009 in Turkey and outlawed smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars, cafes, restaurants, taxis, trains, and outdoor stadiums.
In a means to further discourage smoking, the government previously announced measures to replace current cigarette packaging with “uniform” packaging.
“Cigarette packages should not be easily accessible and should not make smoking appealing. Packages should not serve as advertisement materials. We have to take necessary measures to prevent this,” former Health Minister Ahmet Demircan said in a statement on Feb. 9.
According to the results of a health survey released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) on March 6, the proportion of individuals who smoke every day and sometimes was 32.5 percent in 2014 and 30.6 percent in 2016 in Turkey. This proportion was 44.1 percent for males and 17.4 percent for females in 2016.