Turkey – Legislation Would Limit Sales of Alcohol

NYT — Turkey: Legislation Would Limit Sales of Alcohol and Ban Advertising for It

The Turkish Parliament passed legislation on Friday to ban advertising of alcohol. The measure also bans the sale of alcoholic drinks between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., except in tourist zones, and prohibits alcohol sales near mosques and schools. The measure requires presidential approval before it can be put into effect. The government says it is aimed at protecting young people from the harms of alcohol, but secularist opponents accuse the government of gradually imposing an Islamic agenda.

Recent news that Turkish Parliament is set to limit the sale of alcohol and its advertising particularly caught my interest. I was not the most moderate of drinkers.

Bacchus Drinking

We have been drinking for a long time…



Why blame Turkish government/parliament for imposing restrictions on the consumption of alcohol? We do the same by increasing the prices of alcohol and cigarettes. Some in the UK are even playing with the thought of introducing plain packaging for cigarettes, following Australia’s lead.

Having said that, I don’t agree with Turkey’s reform plans, but I also don’t agree with the outrageous prices of cigarettes in the UK and elsewhere. My intuition tells me that we as humans should be able to take care of ourselves — we are made aware of the dangers of smoking and drinking, and on the basis of that information we will make the choice to drink and smoke, a lot or not. Right?

Though, there does to be a particular causal relation between my being in a country where people tend to drink more and more often, and the amount of alcohol I consume in those places.

During my bachelor studies in Maastricht, I was very moderate in the consumption of alcohol. But when I went to Budapest, I tended to drink more, and more often. The reason for this was two-fold. (1) Alcohol is cheaper in Hungary (a bit over a pound for a pint, in a pub that is), and (2) my friends in Budapest drank more and more often than those in Maastricht.

When I was in Ankara, Turkey for a 6-week internship, I drank alcohol only once. Why? Far fewer people drink there — No exposure.

Not drinking makes me feel better. It is not my conscience which makes me feel bad — I don’t mind that I drink — but it’s my physical and mental health which is affected the most. In Turkey I felt I had more energy, coupled with the primitive feeling of living a healthier lifestyle.

Having seen the effects of alcohol on the homeless in Budapest on a daily basis, one doesn’t know what to think about it. However, the utterly sad sight of those hanging around Nyugati railway station — barely able to stand on their feet, with a sickening smell of very poor quality alcohol steaming from their skin–, makes me wonder as to what I think is the right thing to do for government…

Maybe the sub-optimal solution to this dilemma would be the Technological Fix which Mr Alvin M. Weinberg proposes:

A technological fix is a means for resolving a societal problem by adroit use of technology and with little or no alteration of social behavior. The problem may itself have arisen from a misused or a deficient technology – for example, highway deaths are a social problem stemming from widespread use of automobiles. Or the social problem may have little to do with technology – for example, war or crime in the streets or overpopulation. Thus for the first of these -highway deaths -we have adopted seat belts and may adopt air-bags; for war, technology offers the H-bomb and missile delivery systems which have imposed a peace of mutual deterrence; for crime, better street  lighting, as a partial resolution; for overpopulation, the “pill”.

Who knows?


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