On 19 May 2008, the first wave of the anti-smoking legislation comes into effect. From that day on smoking in Turkey is prohibited in all enclosed areas, except residences and designated places. Just like many other European countries, the Turkish parliament enacted a law to control and prevent the harm caused by tobacco products.
However, Turkey is not only a huge consumer but also a big producer of tobacco. And since Turks enjoy smoking as much as they enjoy finding a way around any law, the question remains: will the government be able to enforce the ban?
As of today, smoking is banned in buildings (enclosed areas) offering:
- any kind of education
- health services
- social activities
- entertainment services
The corridors of these buildings are included in the ban. Consuming tobacco or tobacco products within or outside buildings such as kindergartens, nursery schools, state or private schools and establishments offering courses is prohibited. These establishments are not allowed to implement smoking rooms.
The ban also covers all public transportation, including taxis, trains and boats. A rule that won’t benefit the already nervous Istanbul cab drivers.
As of July 19th 2009, smoking in cafes, restaurants or pubs is also entirely prohibited.
Old people nursing homes, mental asylums and prisons are excluded from the smoking ban as they must install smoking areas. Gardens of hospitals and mosques also escape the ban. On the decks of inter-city or international ships or ferries, smoking is allowed to people no younger than 18 years old.
Who can install designated smoking areas?
Altough smoking is also banned in the open spaces of sports, entertainment, culture and art facilities, they can but aren’t obliged to have smoking rooms or areas. Establishing smoking rooms is at their discretion.
Hotels can give service to their smoking customers by allocating certain floors to smokers.
Buildings and areas where smoking is prohibited must have signs or posters warning about the smoking prohibition and the legal consequences in case of smoking.
The allowed smoking sections have to have ventilation and isolation. These areas are obliged to have posters about the dangers of smoking for the human body.
Producers and marketers of tobacco products are no longer allowed to advertise, nor can they sponsor events.
Tobacco products can not be sold to people under 18. And those people can not be employed in companies that produce, distribute or are involved in the marketing of tobacco products.
People who smoke in non-smoking areas are obliged to pay a TL 62 fine. If you throw the cigarette butt or the pack of cigarettes on the ground, you will be fined TL 23.
Establishments that don’t obey the prohibition for the first time will be warned. In case of repetition, the owner or manager of the building will be fined from TL 50.000 up to TL 250.000.
The rules are strict, very strict. They go even further than what is currently in effect in most European countries. However, the implementation seems to become the most significant problem. Most law-enforcers are heavy smokers themselves. Only time will tell.