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Turkey Commended as it Implements Smoking Ban in Public Places

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

(New York) – The World Lung Foundation (WLF) applauded the significant step taken this week by the government of Turkey as it implemented the first phase of new legislation prohibiting smoking in public places, including offices, mass transit, hospitals, schools, shops and airports.  

In January 2008, Turkey approved a country-wide smoke-free law that prohibits smoking inside enclosed public places. The second phase of the law will take effect in July 2009 and will ensure that restaurants, bars and teahouses are also smoke-free.  Significant fines can be levied against individuals and companies that violate the new law.

 “The Turkish parliament, led by President Abdullah Gül, is demonstrating Turkey's clear commitment to protect its people from the dangers of tobacco,” said Peter Baldini, Executive Director of the World Lung Foundation.  “The new legislation, in effect today, will protect millions of people from the hazards of secondhand smoke in the workplace and elsewhere.”

A recent survey release by the Turkish Ministry of Health showed that an overwhelming majority of Turkish residents (85%) favor the legislation prohibiting smoking in all workplaces and public places. In fact, even a majority of smokers (63%) support the overall legislation.  Nine out of ten believe exposure to secondhand smoke is a serious risk to health.

Turkey's Ministry of Health is working to inform citizens and employers about the new law and is taking other steps to ensure successful implementation of the legislation that will protect all workers from exposure to secondhand smoke.

Turkey, an early ratifier of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), has an important leadership role as chair of the FCTC Euro Group.  The FCTC is the first global health treaty ratified by 154 countries.  In effect since February 2005, it is the first legal instrument designed to reduce tobacco-related deaths and disease around the world. The treaty requires countries to impose restrictions on tobacco advertising, sponsorship and promotion; establish new impactful packaging and labeling of tobacco products; protect citizens from exposure to second-hand, increase price of tobacco products through taxation and collaborate on an international protocol to clamp down on tobacco smuggling.