The recent draft regulation on alcoholic beverages, prepared by the Turkey's tobacco and alcohol regulatory authority, aims to impose very strict restrictions throughout the industry, from the way the products are displayed in markets to their advertisement.
The regulation drafted by the Tobacco, Tobacco Products and Alcolohic Beverages Market Regulatory Authority, or TAPDK, is considered to be a kind of indirect ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages, complementary to Law No. 5752 which took affect last May and bans the sale of alcoholic beverages and cigarettes individually. The draft regulation also anticipates the renewal of all valid sale authorization documents by March 2009.
If the draft regulation prepared by TAPDK President Kazım Çalışkan, former adviser to Finance Minister Kemal Unakıtan, is approved by the authority`s executive board, it will be sent to the respective ministry for approval.
Regulation involves strict implementation
People who are under 18 will not be allowed to work in the marketing and sale of tobacco products and those under 24 will not be able to take part in advertisements of alcoholic beverages.
All types of advertisements promoting and encouraging the consumption of alcohol will be banned. All attempts by wine companies to attach wine glasses and corkscrews to wine bottles, as well as publishing and displaying advertisements of alcoholic beverages in newspapers and movie theaters, will be similarly banned.
İmages showing people being relaxed and happy whilst drinking a cold beer or Turkish rakı, as well as depicting people who consume alcohol as more talented, happy and energetic compared to those who do not, will be banned from being published or broadcast. Chefs who add wine to risotto in food programs on television or writers who include scenes where children under the age of 24 drink alcohol, are thus likely to face punishment.
Producers show reaction
If implemented, wine producers will not be able to give a bottle of wine as a gift. Alcohol companies will not be able to host events using their own names. For instance, Efes Pilsen, one of Turkey's most notable beer producing companies, would not be able to host international sport tournaments or social events using their name, such as the Efes Pilsen Cup or Efes Pilsen Blues Festival and Tuborg could not be the name of a sports club. The display of the price and type of alcoholic beverages for sale will not be allowed to be written in a font larger than size 20.
Meanwhile alcohol producers reacted to the planned regulation stating the move was aimed at reducing alcohol consumption overall in the country.
"Youth should of course be protected but the regulations should not be so restrictive. It is not democratic for such restrictive initiatives to be introduced during a period when officials say bans should be removed. It is an intervention to people`s freedoms," Cahit Kutman, administrative board member of the Kutman Wines, told the Turkish Daily News.
He said the move would also negatively affect the markets in a general sense.
Önder Kırdök, legal counsel of Kavaklıdere Wines, said if the regulation is passed through parliament as it stands, it would create big problems throughout the processes of authorization and sponsorship, sale and production, and consumption and advertisement.
"Even the vendors in the streets will be affected if this is implemented. The authority previously asked for producer`s opinions when preparing the former law and took our objections into consideration," he said.
"They have again asked the opinions of alcohol producers and I hope they will consider them. Otherwise, the move could be interpreted as an initiative to reduce alcohol consumption overall in the country."