Despite efforts to stomp it out, smoking remains a health threat and professor Elif Dağlı, an expert on tobacco control, says the tobacco industry was "powerful" again, saying 118.5 billion cigarettes were consumed last year in Turkey. Dağlı was speaking at an event by the Turkish Thoracic Society in the southern city of Antalya where health care professionals spoke about lung and respiratory health, which smoking poses the main danger to.
"Turkey accomplished so much in tobacco control and I wonder how the smoking hit the highest rate last year. The tobacco industry is obviously influential again and they don't intend to quit Turkey. They continue their attacks and now they come with e-cigarettes and similar products," she said. Dağlı pointed out that e-cigarettes and their ilk were smuggled into Turkey and though they are illegal, they are sold online.
The country's health minister has recently announced that although tobacco use had fallen by 27 percent (since a 2009 smoking ban) but it has increased by 31 percent again.
For a comprehensive fight against smoking, Turkey introduced a nationwide indoor smoking ban in 2009 at restaurants, bars and similar establishments and gradually extended its reach to other enclosed spaces over the years, in addition to a complete smoking ban on school grounds and sale of tobacco products at educational facilities. It also opened clinics to provide treatment against the habit and set up a hotline to help smokers quit. Most recently, new regulations were introduced to discourage smoking among the young by plain or single-type packaging for cigarettes.
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