Completely Smoke Free Istanbul

Picture of a warning sign that smoking is no longer allowed.

by Istanbul Trails

in City Trip, Etiquette & Customs

As of today, 19 July 2009, smoking in Turkey is banned in all enclosed public places. This is an extension of the existing anti-smoking legislation introduced in May last year which prohibited smoking in workplaces and public spaces. From now on cafes, restaurants and bars, who had 18 months to adjust, are also subject to the nation-wide smoking ban. But with 22 million daily smokers, of course the biggest challenge will be enforcing the law!

Where Is Smoking Banned?

  1. Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed spaces. An area is considered enclosed from the moment not all four sides of it are open or if the sky cannot be seen.
  2. The following facilities are considered enclosed areas: cafes, coffee houses, water pipe (nargile) houses, restaurants, bars, open-air discotheques, all entertainment centers, public-transportation vehicles (including taxis), airports, bus stops, stations, terminals, harbors and of course all government buildings.
  3. Smoking is prohibited in education facilities and at all facilities that host artistic or sporting events, regardless whether they take place in enclosed or open areas. However, special enclosed spaces can be assigned within these facilities for smoking purposes, but cannot exceed 50 percent of the total space.
  4. 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. The Bosphorus Scenic Tour Ferries or the regular ferries going back and forth between both shores of the Bosphorus or the Princes’ Islands are not inter-city!
  5. Even in gardens smoking is banned from the moment the smoke disturbs non-smokers. Smoking under a sunshade in a garden is prohibited by default. Remember, when the sky is no longer visible, it is considered an enclosed area. According to me this is by far the most dubious rule.
  6. Hotels are allowed to have designated floors for smokers, but children cannot stay in hotel rooms located on those floors.

How Will The Smoking Ban Be Enforced?

No less than 1.571 teams, aided by voluntary anti-smokers, will go out and regularly check all the establishments subject to the new smoking law.

If you do smoke in a smoke-free area, the establishment owner or one of the waiters is supposed to tell you to put out your cigarette or smoke outside of the building. If you ignore this warning, by law the waiters must stop serving you. Does this mean that you can start smoking the moment you no longer need to be served? No! If you continue to smoke, they may call the police by dialing 184, a newly created hot-line number to report smoking law violations.

What Fine Apply For Smoking In Prohibited Areas?

As a smoker, you will be fined TL 69 for violating the law. Smoking outside is allowed, but throwing your stub on the street may result in a TL 20 fine. For establishment owners, non-compliance with the ban will result in a fine of TL 560 for a first-time offence and up to 5,600 liras for repeat offences.

Bottom Line

Turkey is getting ready to join the European Union. Non-smokers will of course be very happy with these new regulations, while smokers coming from Europe or the US are probably already acquainted with such restrictions since similar (but maybe a tad lighter) laws have been implemented a long time ago in those countries.

However, if you want to try out the century old culture of smoking nargile (water pipe), I suggest you plan a visit to Istanbul in summertime.

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