More than 5000 people were fined throughout Turkey for smoking in their vehicles on Tuesday, following instructions from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to outlaw the practice, according to local news reports.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, upwards of 37,000 personnel were part of the operation, in which 150,000 vehicles throughout the country were inspected. A total of 9000 vehicles were issued fines for smoking or separate violations, while 1866 drivers were disqualified from driving for various infractions.
Last week, Erdoğan publicly complained about drivers and passengers smoking in their vehicles, and vowed to take action against the practice. He also railed against electronic cigarettes and hookah (water pipe tobacco) smoking, noting that the latter is even more harmful than cigarettes The president is famously known for his strong distaste for cigarette smoking.
Earlier this year, he said that he has never smoked in his life, and previously stated that there is no such thing as the freedom to smoke. He once publicly chastised a smoker in cafe while attending a groundbreaking ceremony in the Istanbul district of Esenler, and he has personally asked people he meets to quit smoking.
Turkey’s predilection for smoking has even led to the well-known phrase “to smoke like a Turk.” In recent years, heavy taxes have been added to the cost of packages of cigarettes, though this does not seem to have been a major deterrent to the country’s habit. According to reports from earlier this year, 14.5 million adults and a quarter of a million children in Turkey are smokers.