SMOKE SIGNALS: Tea and coffeehouse owners smoke water pipes in the Aegean port city of Izmir, western Turkey, July 15 2009, as they gather in the city centre to protest against the smoking ban widened throughout Turkey as of July 19, outlawing smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars, cafes and restaurants as well as taxis, trains and outdoor stadiums.
Turkey brought into effect a ban on smoking in bars, cafes and restaurants on July 19 2009, extending a ban issued in May 2008 on smoking in offices, public transport, shopping malls, schools, hospitals and other public places.
The ban brings Turkey into line with most European Union states, but while Turkey is an aspirant EU member, it says that the ban is being imposed for health reasons.
Turkey’s health minister Recep Akdag said that the May 2008 ban brought down smoking by seven per cent, and he hopes that the extension of the prohibition will mean that fewer people will smoke.
"We are working to protect our future, to save our youth," the BBC quoted Akdag as saying.
International news agencies said that the ban had the full backing of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has a strong distaste for smoking.
The ban, in a country where smoking traditionally has been ubiquitous and is famed for its tobacco, sparked ire among owners of restaurants and bars.
On July 15, tea and coffeehouse owners gathered in the centre of the Aegean port city of Izmir, western Turkey, to smoke water pipes in protest at the forthcoming ban.
Customers would be driven away by the smoking ban, the BBC quoted Istanbul café owner Selahattin Nar as saying, but Akdag countered that there was wide public support for the ban.
Turkish media made much of the story, with daily Radikal saying "the saying ‘smoke like a Turk’ is a thing of the past" while Milliyet said: "Smokeless life has begun".