"There might be strong reaction from every province in Turkey," said Murat Ağaoğlu. "We are trying to calm the tradesmen. Some day 20,000 to 30,000 people might take to the streets in all the provinces."
Ağaoğlu said 2 million people will be adversely affected by the ban and proposed the system being implemented in Spain instead. He criticized the timing and the methodology of the ban. "The smoking ban has come at the wrong time. Traders have already indebted themselves heavily just to stay in business," said Ağaoğlu. "Even when the ban was implemented in shopping malls, businesses were affected and restaurants and coffeehouses will be even more affected."
He said Turkey should adopt Spain’s model where a smoking ban is also in place but places have separate smoking and non-smoking sections. Ağaoğlu said there are around 400,000 coffeehouse, cafe, restaurant and beer hall owners in the country and that in total all these businesses have around 2 million employees.
"All these businesses will see a 50 percent drop in revenues due to the ban. Workers will be laid off, and many businesses will have to shut down," he said. He said the ban should be delayed by 18 months to assist businesses.
"There is no place left where we haven’t tried to negotiate, but we never received a response. Businesses that will be affected by the ban should be given credit assistance and other economic incentives," said Ağaoğlu.
Based on changes made to the law that regulates tobacco and the consumption of tobacco products, the use of tobacco products was banned as of May 19 in enclosed areas of buildings providing public services; buildings that cater to educational, health, production, commercial, social, cultural and sporting activities; and all forms of public transport, including taxis.
This ban will be extended July 19 to include restaurants, coffeehouses, cafeterias and bars. Places catering only to smokers or with separate sections for smokers will not be permitted.