Turkey - cafe owners complain about smoking ban..

July 28, 2008 - On July 19, 2009 a smoking ban was introduced prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas, including cafes, bars and restaurants. (Law No. 4207, on the Prevention of the Harmful Effects of Tobacco and Tobacco Products, requires that all restaurants, coffeehouses, cafeterias and bars have an appropriate outdoor area if they wish to allow smoking. The ban levies a TL 69 fine on those who smoke in a forbidden zone and a hefty fine of up to TL 5,600 for operators who allow it to happen.)

A considerable part of society, however, has embraced the new ban, suggesting that the ban comes as a revolutionary step against smoking, which claims thousands of lives annually in Turkey, threatening public health.

Now, a group of cafe owners has applied to the parliamentary Human Rights Commission, demanding that a recently introduced smoking ban, prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas, including cafes, bars and restaurants, be lifted. The most recent challenge of the ban comes from cafe owners, who fear it will ruin their businesses, which have already been hit hard by the economic crisis. The commission sent the application, which underlines that the smoking ban in Europe is far more “flexible” than in Turkey, to the relevant ministries."

Protesting the ban, many bar and coffeehouse owners say the new regulation violates human rights and that the rules are too strict to follow. Resul Karataş, head of the Turkey Cafes, Coffeehouses and Bars Federation, said Saturday that their members are complaining that their business has contracted noticeably since the ban came into effect and were preparing to appeal to the Constitutional Court, demanding that the ban be annulled. “If it continues like this, we fear some 30,000 out of 100,000 current cafes and coffeehouses will have to shut their doors before the end of this year.” Karataş added many cafes had to dismiss employees over the past week.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-rooted government is keen to reduce smoking rates and the effects of second-hand smoke on people's health. He insists the battle against cigarette usage is as crucial as the "struggle against terrorism."

Reference: Cafe owners demand repeal of smoking banToday's Zaman, 7/28/2009.

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Click on smoking ban image to enlarge..