Skip to main content

Erdogan’s bossy anti-smoking drive crosses borders

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's heavy-handed approach to cigarettes, aimed to project a fatherly image in Turkey, has now spread to his interactions with foreign officials.
A man smokes in a cafe in Ankara January 17, 2008. Turkey is the eighth biggest cigarette market in the world, with nearly 60 percent of male adults estimated to smoke. Six global cigarette producers and state-run Tekel compete for the lucrative market. Picture taken January 17, 2008. To match feature TURKEY-CIGARETTES/     REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY) - RTR1X0MZ
Read in 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made a name for himself as a tough anti-smoking campaigner. In today’s health-conscious world, a statesman fighting smoking is hardly newsworthy, but when that statesman is Erdogan, things are different. Erdogan's anti-smoking advocacy is often worthy of headlines as it offers valuable clues about his personality and how he imagines his leadership, views his citizens and governs his country.

A quick Google search with the words “Erdogan” and “smoking” returns abundant material illustrating how Erdogan’s campaign unfolds on the ground. His encounters with Turkish citizens who are either smoking or carrying cigarette packs follow a similar pattern: Erdogan calls to the “busted” smoker, takes away the cigarettes and asks the person to pledge to quit smoking. A promise, however, does not get one off the hook. Erdogan asks the smokers to write their names and telephone numbers on the confiscated packs to make it clear the matter will be followed up on.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.