We have finally left behind the first quarter of 2022. The January-March period of 2022 differs from all the periodic data we have published since the day we started our operations as The Turkish Public Alcohol Policy Watch, and this is due to the fact that we’ve already started monitoring the period with a tax increase. Indeed, the tax hike, which is foreseen to be implemented every six months with Article 12 of the SCT Law No. 4370 in Turkey, was not implemented last July but was implemented at the beginning of last January at a rate of 43%, covering the D-PPI rate of that period. Although this situation is legally expected, it was not expected in reasonable circumstances for the economy, and in a narrow sense, for the citizen to remove such a burden, especially when the tax we are talking about is notorious for being directed solely at lifestyle preferences.
In Turkey, people who prefer to consume alcohol regularly or infrequently have to overcome many hardships. The overwhelming majority of these challenges, which can be summarized in social, legal and economic dimensions, are directly due to the political agenda of the government and the compliance of the public policies enacted with this agenda. The tax hike, which took effect in the early days of January, 2022, is precisely a part of this causality. However, we must state that this causality does not end only in the point of interfering with people’s lifestyles with concrete laws. As The Turkish Public Alcohol Policy Watch, we are researching beyond this causality line that we have revealed, and we strive to share our findings with the public. Here is the 2022 January-March Turkey Unregistered Alcohol Consumption Data!
The most notable point in the January-March period of 2022 is the number of people who lost their lives or were hospitalized. In fact, among the periods we monitored, the period in which the number of people who died/were hospitalized for three months was recorded the most was the January-March period with 28 people. This, of course, is the unintended consequence created by the restrictive and outrageous nature of public policies towards alcohol in Turkey. Indeed, as the access to labeled products decreases, which is gradually decreasing due to both economic factors and the political agenda of the government, citizens are using illegal alternatives, which ultimately comes across as a health threat. There is a significant difference and distinction between the health disorders that are likely to be caused by moderate alcohol consumption, and the health threat posed by bootleg alcohol consumption. The most important distinction is that while the consumption of labeled products is a choice, bootleg alcohol consumption and the growth of the market is an absolute necessity. While no citizen wants to risk their health, the exclusion of even the most basic pleasure of people from the public sphere by making it a political matter is the main causality of where we stand today.
As we mentioned before, the 296% tax rate taken from the 70 cl Turkish raki is the reason for the whole infographic. There is no field where this rate is acceptable. As The Turkish Public Alcohol Policy Watch, we consider it very important to include the concrete reason for this data in the same infographic when sharing the unregistered consumption data that we obtain as a result of daily data monitoring activity. We know that whether or not alcohol is consumed, there is a public awareness of the high tax on alcohol. However, the other important thing is that this tax rate is accompanied with the concrete realities it has created. Thus, it will be necessary to focus the public awareness directly on the causality of public policies for alcohol applied in Turkey, while seeking solutions to the problem.