Turkey envisions smoke-free parks and gardens with new bans
by Safure Cantürk
ISTANBULFeb 09, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Safure Cantürk
Feb 09, 2016 12:00 am
The Health Ministry plans to step up its fight against smoking with new measures addressing the decreasing population of smokers in Turkey. Smoking will be banned in public parks and gardens and other public places, but specific areas will be designated exclusively for smokers.
The new measures are part of an anti-smoking campaign touting "Airspace without smoke," which was lauded by anti-tobacco groups and international community.
Expected to be implemented this year, the new bans will prohibit smoking in public zones, in front of shopping malls, in the courtyards of mosques as well as other places of worship and promenades. Spaces will be designated in those places for smokers.
Health Ministry will also crack down on violations of the smoking ban in enclosed spaces of restaurants, cafes and eateries, especially in winter. More inspections are being mulled to curb violations, and new regulations will be enacted to define the authorities issuing the fines, a point of contention by smokers, especially in private businesses.
The ministry will also further restrain spaces allocated for smokers. Businesses will be required to separate tables for smokers and non-smokers, so as to prevent secondhand smoke. Currently, restaurants and similar venues offer private spaces for smoking customers in enclosures outside, but those spaces are ultimately connected to interior space, leading to complaints over second-hand smoke.
Turkey is now among seven other countries in the world imposing effective tobacco control measures or efforts to decrease the consumption of tobacco products ranging from cigarettes to cigars, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). A 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 four years.
The country, during the tenure of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a staunch teetotaler, had launched an anti-smoking campaign and ban in 2009. The government has introduced comprehensive legislation against the habit, banning smoking in all enclosed public places. Last year, Turkey announced a 2015-2018 action plan for its tobacco control efforts. The plan requires plain packaging for cigarettes and compulsory identification checks during cigarette sales to prevent sales to minors.