Turkey: World Tobacco Turkey Violates Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship Ban
Turkey is one of the largest tobacco markets in the world and is a major target for tobacco companies looking to increase company profits. In 2012, a tobacco industry trade publication, announced that Turkey would be the new site for a global tobacco trade show - World Tobacco 2013 – because of the country’s position in the global tobacco market and its reputation as a leading regional trading hub. Additionally, the 2013 World Tobacco conference planned for May 29-31 coincided with the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), an annual event promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the global health community. WNTD, held on May 31, is designed to draw attention to the global tobacco epidemic and generate support for tobacco control.
Turkey is a global leader in tobacco control having implemented a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS); 100% smoke-free laws; graphic warning labels on tobacco packaging; and increased tobacco taxes. Tobacco control partners invoked Turkey’s strong laws and status as a Party to the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) to argue that the conference was in violation of Turkish law and advocate for the cancellation of the event.
Turkish health non-governmental organizations (NGOs) organized under the umbrella of the Turkish National Coalition on Tobacco or Health (SSUK).
Following the announcement of the conference, SSUK wrote to the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey Directorate (TOBB), Office of the Prime Minister, the Tobacco and Alcohol Markets Regulatory Authority (TAPDK) and all relevant government ministries in charge of enforcing Turkey’s TAPS ban to urge them to stop the event from occurring. SSUK argued that:
- The advertisement and promotion of tobacco products by tobacco companies is prohibited under the law.
- Turkey cannot allow World Tobacco 2013 to take place because doing so would be inconsistent with Turkey’s obligation as a Party to the FCTC to comprehensively ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
To counter the argument that World Tobacco 2013-Turkey was solely a trade show about machinery and would not involve any tobacco advertisement or promotion, SSUK referenced the World Tobacco 2013-Turkey webpage and brochure to demonstrate that the conference:
- Is not an exclusive trade event closed to the general public, but rather a trade show with wide public appeal
- Gives exhibitors the opportunity to launch new products and promote their brands and product portfolios.
- Allows tobacco companies to benefit from publicity campaigns promoting World Tobacco 2013-Turkey and various other marketing opportunities SSUK urged TAPDK to conduct a technical evaluation of the situation and to enforce the law. Additionally, SSUK planned a public protest in front of the conference venue on WNTD, May 31- if the event was not cancelled.
Tobacco control partners successfully prevented the World Tobacco 2013-Turkey conference from taking place. After conducting its evaluation, TAPDK concluded that the promotion of the event was in violation of Turkish law. Following TAPDK’s decision, the Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center, the site for World Tobacco 2013-Turkey, announced that they were terminating their contract with the organizers. In their decision, the convention center cited that they feared a government penalty should they continue with the event. The conference organizers were unable to find an alternate venue and were forced to cancel the event.
On May 31 2013, WNTD, the Turkish Ministry of Health used the Lutfi Kirdar Convention Center to release the results of the 2012 Global Adult Tobacco Survey.