Turkish President Gul approves controversial bill restricting alcohol

Photo: Turkish President Gul approves controversial bill restricting alcohol  / Turkey

President Abdullah Gul has approved the controversial bill restricting the sale and advertising of alcohol, Anatolia news agency reported today.

The 15 day limit allocated for the president's decision was set to end as of June 11.

"If I see constitutional problems [in the bill], I will do what's necessary," Gul had told the Confederation of Turkish Craftsmen and Tradesmen (TESK) head, Bendevi Palandoken, at a meeting on May 30.

He had previously said the bill should be seen as a "regulation" rather than a ban.

The controversial alcohol bill is seen as one of the reasons protesters have taken to the streets as part of the Taksim Gezi Park protests, voicing demands that include respect for their lifestyles.

On May 24, Parliament's General Assembly adopted the alcohol bill proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), tightening restrictions on the sale and advertising of alcoholic beverages.

Retailers will no longer be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to the bill.

All sorts of advertising campaigns will be completely banned, such as promotions, sponsored activities, festivals and free giveaways. The only exception will be the international fairs aimed at international marketing of the alcoholic beverages.

Violators of the advertising ban will be punished with financial penalties ranging from 5000 to 200,000 Turkish liras.

Under the bill, alcohol companies would no longer be allowed to promote their brands and logos, these can only be used as part of service inside the facility.

Additionally, all liquor bottles sold would have to display warning signs about the harms of alcohol, again similar to those found on cigarette packages.

In TV series, films and music videos, images that glorify the consumption of alcohol will be prohibited. Images of alcohol would be blurred, the same way as cigarettes are being blurred at the moment.

Alcoholic beverages will not be allowed to be purchased from vending machines. Beverages could not be sold from see-through shop windows and cannot be sold to be consumed outside the facility.

Student dormitories, health institutions, sports clubs, all sorts of education institutions and gas stations will be banned from selling alcohol. Already acquired licenses to sell alcohol will remain intact, yet to get new ones, facilities are required to be located outside the perimeter of 100 meters of educational and religious centers.

Those who want to get licenses to sell alcohol from the Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Authority (TAPDK) will be conditioned to get the license to open up a business from the municipality and then a tourism document from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Before granting a license the municipalities will get the opinion of the authorized law enforcement forces.

The alcohol limit for drivers has also been decreased from 1 to 0.5 promil. If the driver is to exceed this limit, they will be penalized with a fine of 700 liras and their driving license will be seized for a period of six months. Smoking while driving is also prohibited.

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