It is the New Year’s Eve again. It is now really important to point out the last two weeks of the year; we are entering 2022 in a very bitter atmosphere. The reason for this bitterness is a glooming “We told you so”. The increasing operations and unfortunate deaths caused by illicit alcohols… Turkey does not deserve this.
What have we said before?
In 2021, as The Turkish Public Alcohol Policy Watch, we have monitored illicit alcohol use every single day from the first of January till the 31st of December. We have quarterly shared the results of our comprehensive monitoring process that we have scanned through both from national and international media.
This project of the Turkish Public Alcohol Policy Watch is still the only example of its kind. Indeed, Turkish Public Alcohol Policy has been the only NGO that has daily monitored illicit alcohol use data and shared this data with the public and has persistently offered to come to the table with all media outlets, political parties, executive and legislative branches of the government.
But the activities of the Turkish Public Alcohol Policy are not solely limited to objectively monitoring data. As a team, we are always going further and scientifically analyzing these data, suggesting effective public policies, and thus, criticizing the currently existing public policies.
Thus, the working principles of the Turkish Public Alcohol Policy become apparent.
In this context let us assess what the illicit alcohol usage data of Turkey throughout the year tell us and at this point what it represents by our activities that result in a “We told you so.”.
2021 has been a year in which we have frequently felt the need to dwell on a slogan in our broadcasts and studies we have published: There isn’t an alcohol problem in Turkey, yet it is being combatted against as if there is one. The result is disproportionate public policy.
When we go back 6 or 7 months, we will remember all alcohol sales in the country were banned due to a Ministry of the Interior Circulaire that was published due to pandemic precautions. The tax levels of alcohol that have risen up to %260 and are expected to increase every year are the icing on the cake. All of this is the result of disproportionate public policy.
Of course, these public policies also have results. At this point, we return to our key takeaway from the data we are about to publish that we have tried to raise throughout the year in our campaign: The illicit alcohol is not the cause but the effect. The cause is disproportionate public policies.
2021 Turkey’s Illicit Alcohol Usage Data we are going to publish today, is the reflection of this cause-and-effect relation.
When we examine the data, we can see concrete data both on the cause and the effect. In the data, we have confronted the main and most important restraint against the usage of alcohol, the tax applications. In 47 European countries Turkey is last in alcohol consumption, yet third in the tax percentage taken from alcohol. If the purpose of this tax is to decrease the orientation on alcohol and reduce its encouragement it is certain something is not right. Because Turkey, the last country on alcohol consumption, is also one of the highest tax collectors on alcohol is disproportionate.
%260 tax taken from the Rakia, actually answers most of the questions. Beer being the most consumed alcohol in Turkey shows us there isn’t an alcoholism problem and proves that the precautions taken against it make it harder as interference of rights and liberties rather than to improve the current condition. Let us remind the cause-and-effect relation The illicit alcohol is the effect, the disproportionate public policies the cause. This is the cause.
When we come to the effect, things get more unpleasant. We can see from the data that in 2021 there have been 720 discrete operations against illicit alcohol usage in Turkey. These operations were scattered and spread all over Turkey. After all these operations 1 million 135 thousand 172 liters of illicit alcohol was seized. In these operations which 3 thousand 598 people were served, other than illicit alcohol fake banderols also stands out in many products that were seized.
The saddest part of this data is 109 unfortunate deaths poisoning tied to illicit alcohol. The bitter consequence of the cause-and-effect argument and the heavy burden of “We told you so.” which we were forced to say again appears in this number.
Especially in the last months of 2021, the warnings we made as we go towards New Year’s Eve, increasing operations and seized products and the appearing danger we had seen coming with them weren’t enough. We are heartbroken. We believe no one deserves an end such as this, and we repeat our call for authorities to take reasonable and scientific precautions against this.
In this sense, we enter 2022 New Year’s Eve with a hashtag that is a lot more bitter yet one that aims to achieve a turning point and we ask #HowManyMoreLives. It is never too late to turn back to public policies that are based on the light of scientific facts, that are rational, proportional, and based on rights and liberties.
We know that as a platform we have a long and tough road ahead of us. Yet each passing day, The Turkish Public Alcohol Policy Watch becomes more dynamic, exciting, and determined. On this tough road, we take power from our longing victory of rights and liberties and the support of the responsive public.
In this sense, as Turkish Public Alcohol Policy Watch, we would like to end the year by thanking our partners and followers for their support and presence who made our platform possible.
We wish 2022 to be a year full of freedoms,
The Turkish Public Alcohol Policy Watch
December 2021, Ankara