The World Health Organization (WHO) has given Turkey an award for its success regarding the implementation of its anti-tobacco law.
Hungary, the UK and Sweden were also given the same award as countries that are waging a successful fight against smoking.
WHO has noted Turkey's effectiveness in its fight against smoking, ranking Turkey fourth in Europe in terms of having one of the most effective anti-smoking laws. Turkey's success created a domino effect in Europe, with 32 countries adopting similar anti-smoking laws.
The first phase of the law banning smoking in Turkey went into effect on May 19, 2008. It prohibited smoking tobacco products in state buildings, including hallways and corridors, in all enclosed areas of educational, health, production, commercial, social, cultural and sports facilities and in public transportation vehicles, including taxis, buses, ferries and airplanes. On July 19, 2009, the law went into full effect, with restaurants, coffeehouses, cafeterias and bars designated as smoke-free areas.
Parliamentary Health Commission Chairman Cevdet Erdöl, one of the people who contributed to the enactment of the law, accepted the WHO award at a ceremony in Ankara on Thursday. The ceremony was also attended by Health Minister Recep Akdağ and WHO's Turkey representative, Maria Cristina Profili.
In his speech at the ceremony Akdağ said Erdöl made great efforts for the enactment of the anti-smoking law, recalling that it is the third time Turkey has received a WHO award for its fight against smoking in the past five years.
Speaking about the effect of the law on cigarette consumption, Akdağ said: “The smoking rate, which was 31 percent in 2008, fell to 27 percent in 2010. We hope to reduce this figure to 15 percent by 2015. This is a very challenging goal, but I believe that we will achieve this with support from our citizens.”
Profili highlighted the fact that smoking leads to the deaths of more than 6 million people in the world every year and that 600,000 of these people die due to passive smoking.