Erdoğan once again wages war against alcohol, tobacco products

President Erdoğan has complained about citizens continuing to buy alcohol and tobacco products, signaling that new taxes are on way for them. He said that although some people "are miserably hungry, they continue buying beer and rakı." He also said he will tell U.S. billionaire Elon to similarly wage a war against smoking and make investment with regards to this issue.

Duvar English

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on May 31 complained about soaring taxation not stopping some people from buying alcohol products. He said that although some people "are miserably hungry, they continue buying beer and rakı." 

"We constantly raise taxes on alcohol and tobacco. [Some Turkish citizens] are very uncomfortable because of this. They are miserably hungry, yet continue buying beer and rakı," he said during a meeting organized for World No Tobacco Day at the Presidential Complex.

Also reiterating his fierce opposition to tobacco products, Erdoğan said he will tell U.S. billionaire Elon Musk to "spend money against smoking."

"In my first meeting with Elon Musk, I will say, 'Spend some money on this fight against cigarette consumption.'"

Erdoğan has a habit of collecting packages from smokers during his domestic and international trips and meetings. 

Erdoğan also mentioned that his government is working on regulations with regards to hookahs, deeming them "as harmful as cigarettes."

"E-cigarettes are also scams. It harms one's financial situation and their body. We will not allow for this to happen. The hookah has been on the agenda lately. Hookah is not less harmful than cigarettes, but much more. We are preparing some regulations for hookahs," Erdoğan said. 

Critics say President Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) are imposing Islamic values on the country through steps such as steep tax hikes on alcohol and cigarettes.

In 2002, at the beginning of its tenure, the AKP introduced a “special consumption tax” (ÖTV) on alcohol and tobacco products in the name of "benefitting public health." During the AKP's 20-year reign, the tax has been increased several hundredfolds.