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July 20th, 2009:

Huge Team to Enforce Smoking Ban Everybody Wants

Clear the Air, Jim says:

the population of Turkey is 72 million

the population of Hong Kong is 7 million

Turkey will employ 4,500 Tobacco Control Officers (TCOs)

Hong Kong has 85 TCOs and a further 14 soon to cover three shifts over Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, NT and the Islands of the territory.

Is Hong Kong Government serious about enforcing its anti smoking laws ? what do you think ? what is the use of enacting laws without adequate enforcement capability (bark, no bite) ?

Huge Team to Enforce Smoking Ban Everybody Wants

Source from: Tobacco Reporter  07/20/2009 Turkey’s government is setting up a 4,500-strong team to help enforce a tobacco smoking ban that on Sunday will be extended to include bars, restaurants and coffee houses, according to a story by Suzan Fraser for Associated Press.

A Health Ministry official was quoted as saying the force would carry out surprise checks on bars, restaurants and coffee houses where men traditionally pass time lighting up, drinking tea or coffee and playing backgammon and card games.

The news of the special force is in one way surprising. In most countries where such bans have been imposed, smokers have proved to be remarkably law abiding.

Also, a survey conducted by the Association of Public Health Experts and reported earlier this week was said to have shown that 89.9 per cent of all employers and employees of establishments that will become smoke-free, and 85.9 per cent of their customers, are in favour of the ban. Enditem

Tobacco ban spells end for smoky little Turkish cafes

TURKEY, Daren Butler, SCMP

Smokers in Turkey tempted to flout a new ban in cafes, restaurants and bars will be spared execution, as allegedly meted out in 17th-century Istanbul – but their prime minister has likened cigarettes to terrorism.

That’s a measure of how strongly Recep Tayib Erdogan feels about tobacco. Ottomann Sultan Murad IV is said to have roamed the streets ordering the execution of those who defied a smoking ban aimed at curbing coffeehouse sedition.

One of the world’s oldest prohibitions of smoking, Sultan Murad’s failed and, as tobacco’s popularity grew in Turkey, the saying “smoke like a Turk” took root in languages across Europe.

Mr Erdogan is the driving force behind the next phase of a widely popular ban that took effect yesterday. It aims to curb the habit in a country where 22 million people, including about half the adult male population, smoke.

But at a time of economic crisis, the prohibition – adding restaurants, cafes and bars to the places where smoking is not allowed – is viewed by a minority as a potential assault on their culture.

Mr Erdogan, who long since banned smoking in cabinet meetings, also faces opposition from owners of thousands of bars and cafes across the Muslim country, who see the ban as a threat to their business.

Some in the bar industry point out that the smoking ban coincides with the introduction of restrictions on alcohol advertising this month, but experts reject suggestions it is a stalking-horse for tighter controls on the sale of alcohol.

“Let’s keep alcohol and cigarettes separate. They are different things,” law professor Hayrettin Okcesiz of Akdeniz University said. “If there is a ban on alcohol, everyone should have the right to protest, but we shouldn’t see this is as step towards an alcohol ban.”

Among opponents are those who work in nargile, or water-pipe cafes, an ancient tradition that has enjoyed a revival in the past decade among locals and tourists. “This is the Ottoman culture that comes from our ancestors,” said cafe owner Ali Yogurtcu, 54. “We will protest if they try to ban this, but I don’t think they will try to destroy it.”

A meagre fine under Turkey’s ban – 69 lira (HK$350) against a ceiling of €500 (HK$5,475) in neighbouring Greece – masks fierce determination on the part of Mr Erdogan. His personal dislike of the habit may give the ban the momentum it needs to succeed in the world’s seventh-biggest cigarette market.

When the anti-smoking campaign was launched in 2007, he famously declared the struggle against cigarette use to be “as important as the struggle against terrorism”, words that resonate strongly in a country that has witnessed a bloody 25-year Kurdish guerilla insurgency.

In Turkey, 100,000 people are estimated by the Health Ministry to die annually from smoking-related illnesses – about 0.45 per cent of smokers. Globally, about 5.4 million die annually of smoking-related illnesses.

Surveys indicate about 90 per cent popular support for the smoking ban, which started last year in workplaces and shopping centres. The authorities say that has already lowered cigarette consumption slightly.

Support has been helped by a growing interest in healthy lifestyles as people enjoy greater prosperity (SEHK: 0803, announcements, news) and expect better standards of living. But there have been problems.

A group of convicts rioted at a prison in the southeastern province of Siirt, climbing on to the roof, lighting fires and throwing stones to protest at the ban on smoking in jail.

Smoking has also continued in some cafes in shopping centres, where retailers have complained about its impact on trade as the economy slumped nearly 14 per cent in the first quarter of the year.

These fuel doubts about whether the ban will be implemented in the thousands of smoky, male-dominated tea houses in towns and villages across Turkey where many men spend much of their free time, gossiping or playing backgammon.

Tea-house owners say more than 80 per cent of their patrons smoke.

Others say Mr Erdogan’s anti-smoking fervour reflects efforts to change society in a country where his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) is accused by secularists of promoting a more conservative vision since it came to power in 2002.

“I think we have been heading towards a camouflaged alcohol ban,” said Tahir Berrakkarasu, who heads the Beyder association that represents cafes, bars and restaurants in Istanbul’s bustling Beyoglu district.

“Why is this happening? It means that alcohol isn’t wanted in this country,” he said, referring to what he says is a six-year government campaign targeting bars with a stream of taxes and bureaucratic obstacles.

The advertising restrictions on alcohol that take effect this month ban linking alcohol to food and cultural values: drink producers say they will severely curb their marketing ability.

Even though the authorities say implementing the smoking ban will be a challenge, they point out that Turks are receptive to change, citing the success of a 13-year-old ban on smoking in buses and the country’s adoption of the Latin alphabet in place of Ottoman Turkish script in 1928.

“We can see that the people who live in this land can adapt very quickly to change,” said Ubeyd Korbey, who chairs an anti-smoking association and played a role in drafting the ban. “And we now have a very decisive prime minister.”