VIDEO: Turkish President Erdoğan scolds smoker, calls in security

VIDEO: Turkish President Erdoğan scolds smoker, calls in security

Dinçer Gökçe / Can Mumay ISTANBUL
VIDEO: Turkish President Erdoğan scolds smoker, calls in security

Speaking to Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan insisted that the renegade smoker must be penalized on the spot.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took time out of a stroll through Istanbul’s Esenler district on Nov. 2 to take umbrage with a man smoking a cigarette in a nearby café before ordering the municipal patrol to fine him.

“There is a penal sanction [for smoking in closed areas],” Erdoğan said as he visited a pedestrianized street in Esenler after he noticed a man smoking a cigarette on the second floor of a cafe.  

“I know,” Esenler Mayor Tevfik Göksu replied before Erdoğan responded: “You know it, but this is wrong. Where is the [municipal patrol]?”

Istanbul Metropolitan Mayor Kadir Topbaş tried to defuse the tensions by suggesting that the man “could promise that he won’t smoke again” and the issue could be closed, but Erdoğan rejected this proposal, too.

“Promise?” the Turkish president asked, insisting that the renegade smoker had to be penalized on the spot.

“He blatantly behaved rudely. You see, this guy is just sitting there and keeps smoking even after the president tells him not to,” he said.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Esenler Youth Branch head Ozan Işık, who was next to the smoker in question, suggested in a tweet that Erdoğan might have been angered by their refusal to wave.

“He turned to us and [when] we didn’t wave, he shouted, ‘No smoking indoors,’” Işık said.

Deniz Ayvaz, a co-owner of the cafe, denied reports that the person was fined. "Municipal patrol officers came, but couldn't find the person. Only health officials in the district can issue fines. I don't know if they will do it today," he said Nov. 2.

The districts top administrative authority, or kaymakam, issued the maximum fine Nov. 3. "I've used my discretion [regarding the severity of the fine]," Yüksel Ünal said, stressing that the same business was also fined for permitting smoking in a closed location earlier this year.

Any business that permits its customers to smoke in closed areas can be punished with fines ranging from 1,233 to 6,000 Turkish Liras, according to the law. The same law also stipulates that the person who smokes in closed areas can be fined 91 Turkish Liras.