The Turkish government has prepared a draft law that would ban alcohol advertising. Officials describe the initiative as an effort to protect children. However, critics argue it could undermine the separation of state and religion.
Recently a bill was sent to parliament which, besides banning alcohol marketing, would also prohibit alcohol producers from sponsoring events and restrict where alcohol retail and consumption is allowed. Furthermore, it would introduce mandatory health warnings on the packaging and prohibit retailers from displaying alcoholic products outside. Fines will be imposed on violation of the new law.
“Our aim is to protect society, particularly children and youth from taking up these habits at an early age, and not to limit an adult’s alcohol consumption,” Yahya Akman, a lawmaker in the ruling Justice and Development Party and partly responsible for the bill told press agency Reuters.
The subjects of alcohol and banning the marketing thereof is a prickly subject in Turkey, whose population is 99 percent Muslim, yet has a secular constitution. Because Islam prohibits the consumption of alcohol, many secularists see the new plans as infringing on the separation of state and religion.
The bill is expected to become a law before parliament recesses in July.
According to the government it is not attempting to interfere in people’s lives but it is trying to protect the younger generation. “This is to make sure that alcohol consumption is not encouraged among young people. The state has a responsibility to protect the family and the public,” Akman told Reuters.
Meanwhile, businessweek.com reports that stocks in Turkish brewers have been plummeting recently. Passage of the law would also be another blow to local brewers that are already grappling with taxes that are more than 100 percent on alcohol, one of the highest in the world.
Akman was quoted by Reuters as saying that public health is a higher priority than companies’ revenues: “A company’s profit is insignificant when compared with the health of the general public, which is what’s at stake here.”
Update 05/28/13: The new law was passed on Friday May 24th.Now, the measure requires presidential approval before it can be put into effect. (Source: nytimes.com 05/24/13)