Add an app to Turkey's list of measures against smoking, which remains prevalent despite a decrease in the number of smokers thanks to relentless efforts by the government.
"Green Detector," a joint project of teetotalers society Green Crescent and the Health Ministry, will alert authorities to those violating the smoking ban.
The app, which will be launched soon, comes on the heels of a further extension of the smoking ban to semi-enclosed spaces in restaurants, bars and other private-run public places. It is promoted as the world's first digital measure against smoking and will be integrated into 184, a hotline to report smoking ban violations. It makes any law-abiding citizen a volunteer for anti-smoking efforts. Mücahit Öztürk, head of the Green Crescent, said they already launched the app in a test phase in Istanbul and it will soon cover the entire country.
Users just click a report button on the app to send the coordinates of the location where the ban is being violated and authorities will send inspectors to the place. Users will also be informed about the result of their complaint.
Green Detector already has some 10,000 users, and officials hope to reach at least 1 million volunteers across the country. A public service announcement about the app will soon be broadcast on TV.
Öztürk says the app will enable the measuring of the efficiency of the smoking ban and they'll concentrate on efforts to enforce the ban in places with frequent breaches of the ban. He also hinted at awarding volunteers for reporting violations.
Smoking is one of the habits most associated with Turks and even led to the emergence of the expression: "To smoke like a Turk." Today, the country, which has a high prevalence of smokers, marks the eighth year since the comprehensive smoking ban came into force. Figures show the ban, along with higher taxes and free treatment for smokers, helped decrease smoking in the country. A World Health Organization (WHO) report released in 2015 showed a 12 percent decline in tobacco sales and a decline in the prevalence of tobacco smoking from 31.2 percent to 27.1 percent in the four years prior to the report.
In 2009, Turkey banned smoking in all indoor spaces, including restaurants, bars, cafes and similar establishments and, one year later, the ban was extended to smoking in various sites such as stadiums, mosque courtyards and hospitals. Then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a staunch teetotaler, is largely credited for the effective implementation of the ban that significantly limited space for smokers.