Turkey will welcome the new year with a string of changes for the daily lives of millions. Starting on Jan. 1, plastic bags at grocery store checkouts and other businesses will be mandated to be sold for TL 0.25 ($4 cents) under new regulations.
The regulations also order businesses to set up container-deposit places for the return of bottles and similar materials. The landmark decision will contribute to Turkey's efforts against plastic pollution. Most municipalities and nonprofit organizations have already started giving out canvas bags for free to shoppers, while stores started selling non-plastic bags for low prices.
Another landmark change for the Turkish public is the removal of the fair use quota, which has been a major hindrance for millions of internet users. The quota, used by all internet providers, downgrades connection speeds after users reach a specific number of gigabytes while downloading. Users have long complained that speeds are dropping down almost tenfold after they exceed the download quota under the "fair use" policy that originally intended to preemptively prevent malfunctions in connections due to heavy use.
2019 also brings a revolutionary change for smokers. Under a recently adopted law, starting in 2019, cigarettes and other tobacco products must be sold in uniform packages with a prominent display of health warnings, and only a smaller space for the name of the brand. "Plain packaging," as it is commonly called, is a practice that aims to deter youth from the dangers of smoking. Proponents of the change argue that glossy cigarette packs are among the factors drawing the youth to smoking.