Smoking Tobacco in Turkey

Turkish tobaccoTurks smoke a lot! This is a known fact all around the world; for example, there is even a saying in Italian "smoking like a Turk", or some jokes such as "Who smokes more than a Turk?" and the answer is "Two Turks!". Unfortunately, this bad habit of smoking cigarettes or water pipes is very popular amongst young people too.

According to WHO (World Health Organization), 30% of men and 12% of women in Turkey smoke tobacco products. A report from OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) in 2015 mentions that Turkey is the 11th country in the world for tobacco smoking figures, with an average of 24% of its population. TUIK (Turkish Statistical Institute) states in their report of 2016 that 26,5% of population over 15 years of age in Turkey smokes. Another report by WHO in 2018 shows the brutal face of smoking; 31% of the deceased men in Turkey die because of tobacco, which equals to over 83 thousand people every year! This makes Turkey the second highest country in deaths related to tobacco smoking in the world, after North Korea. It's true that after the Law #4733 published in 2002 which bans the smoking of tobacco products indoors and in public buildings reduced these deaths in some ways, but each year younger people start to smoke hence the death figures related to lung cancer or other tobacco-related illnesses are growing.

Tobacco is known as Nicotiana Tabacum in Latin. First tobacco seeds were brought to the Ottoman Empire from Europe around 17th century and planted in the Balkans and in the Aegean region. Soon, the Oriental type tobacco, known as Turkish tobacco, became so popular around the world for its high quality.

Turkey, thanks to its suitable climate and variety of flora, has a huge production of tobacco in the fertile fields mostly in the Aegean region and some in the Southeastern Anatolian region, and is number 1 in the "Oriental type" tobacco production. Even though production has dropped by at least 50% since the Law in 2002, tobacco continues to be an important agricultural product for Turkey with its contribution to the country's economy and the employment. There are many international tobacco companies producing their cigarettes in Turkey.

No SmokingToday the Governments are trying to reduce the use of tobacco with laws, regulations, seminars and advertisements. The Law of 2002 also regulates the selling of tobacco products, not just its use at locations. Also, new regulations such as you can't even smoke in your car otherwise you get a fine, or cancer lung photos placed on cigarette boxes, or campaigns displayed on TV's, or raise of taxes on tobacco products are some of the measures to discourage people from smoking. Yet, due to the high usage of tobacco in Turkey, huge amount of tax collected from this sector remains one of the major incomes for the Government.