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.