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Last Updated: Friday, 4 January 2008, 10:30 GMT
Turkey to have wide smoking ban
By David O'Byrne
BBC News, Istanbul

Smoker in an Istanbul tea house
Turkey's no-smoking rules follow a Europe-wide public health trend
Parliament in Turkey has voted to introduce a blanket ban on smoking in enclosed public places.

Banning smoking was until recently completely unthinkable in Turkey, where 40% of the adult population - 25 million people - are smokers.

But such bans are now common in Europe. Health campaigners say one in five deaths in Turkey - a major tobacco producer - is tobacco-related.

Opponents say Turkey's existing partial bans on smoking are widely flouted.

The new ban will outlaw smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars, cafes and restaurants as well as taxis, trains and outdoor stadiums. It is due to come into force in about 18 months' time.

Greece has the highest proportion of adult smokers in Europe - 45%
Ireland was the first European country to implement a comprehensive ban on smoking in public places in March 2004
Norway followed soon after, but allowed a smokers' corner in workplaces
Italy banned workplace smoking in January 2005 and Naples and Verona have made smoking illegal in public parks
Belgium allows smoking in cafes and bars if they have ventilation installed and are at least 50sq m (538sq ft) in area

There have been many warnings that implementing it will prove a nightmare.

Some argue that existing bans on smoking in hospitals, schools and other public buildings are already widely flouted.

They also question how the newly-legislated fines - 50 Turkish lira (22; $44) for those lighting up and 5,000 lira for bar and cafe owners who allow smoking on their premises - will be imposed.

Many smokers too are outraged by what they see as an infringement of their civil liberties, and are warning that they will ignore the new law.

But against this, the new law is being strongly praised by health campaigners. They point out that smoking-related illnesses cost Turkey up to 3bn lira (1.4bn; $2.7bn) a year.

The anti-smoking lobby has on its side a powerful supporter in the shape of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Well-known for his dislike of smoking, it is Mr Erdogan himself who has championed the new law through parliament and who in this instance, at least, appears more than ready to put principle ahead of popularity.

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