As of yesterday, Turkey has enforced a controversial law placing limits on the sale and advertising of alcoholic beverages throughout the country, despite ongoing criticism, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.
According to the new bill, retailers will no longer be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and cannot sell alcohol in the vicinity of a house of worship or schools.
But many critics say that there will inevitably be violations of the new law.
“I am sorry to say this, but many of us retailers will sell alcoholic beverages during the banned hours, as this is when we sell most," confessed a small shop owner on the Asian side of Istanbul. "I do not understand why the government passed such regulations. The government takes high taxes from the consumption of those beverages. The new regulations will bring nothing but illegal sales.”
The shop owner continued to explain, “I have a legal permit to sell alcohol and there are no schools or places of worship within 100 meters of my shop. But what if somebody wants to launch a school or establish a mosque around my shop? What will happen then?”
Restaurants and other facilities will still be allowed to serve alcohol, but some 200,000 small retailers will be greatly affected by the new ban.
There are also fears such restrictions could be used irresponsibly, as it is unclear precisely who will be examining complaints under the new law.
"Imagine a man who does not like a retailer in his neighborhood. He may accuse the retailer of selling alcohol illegally at night. Who will be responsible? The police, municipalities, or others? We, as the retailers, want some revisions to be made to the new law immediately,” demanded Bendevi Palandoken, the head of the Confederation of Turkish Craftsmen and Tradesmen (TESK).
Many secular Turks see the ban as an example of the ruling Islamist AKP party's policy of imposing Islamic law on the lives of ordinary citizens.
There are several sector representatives who say that such restrictions are not necessary in Turkey, as the consumption of alcoholic beverages is already very low. According to World Health Organization (WTO) figures, Turkey's alcohol consumption rate is only 3.4 liters of alcohol per capita annually, which is significantly below the global average.
Many advertising campaigns have been discontinued due to the ban. There will, however, be one exception for advertisers to showcase their campaigns: at the international marketing of alcoholic beverages fair.