Why is the need for the Turkish Alcohol Policy Platform?

Alcoholic beverages are subject to special regulations and are closely monitored in all countries around the world due to their relevance with the state revenues and public health. The regulations on alcoholic beverages were initially introduced in our country as the tax revenues from alcoholic beverages were transferred to the General Debts Administration under the payments of debts to foreign countries.

For a long time, these regulations have been treated solely within the framework of the state’s revenues. The attempts to introduce state monopoly on the alcoholic beverages market during the first years of the Republic were shaped using various models, and the state monopoly was implemented with the Law no. 4250 on the Monopoly of Alcohol and Alcoholic Beverages, passed in 1942.

For about 60 years after the state monopoly was introduced in 1942, the alcoholic beverages market in our country has enjoyed protectionism from the state. However, neo-liberal free market policy practices of 1980s made their impact on the alcoholic beverages market and in January 2001, the state monopoly on the alcoholic beverages market was abolished. In this period when the country’s alcoholic beverages market was being restructured, the regulatory arrangements were implemented with disregard for basic public health principles.

Through privatization efforts, the alcoholic beverages market was completely adapted to free market principles in 2004. As a result of this transformation, the market grew considerably in economic or commercial terms, reaching the size of TL 10-12 billion. On the other hand, this created serious public health concerns, particularly given the country’s relatively younger population. Indeed, the number of alcoholic beverage products marketed rose from 891 in early 2004, when the state monopoly was completely removed, to 7,500 in July 2011.

In a social state, the economic order relies on the market economy. The risks and social problems stemming from the free operation of the market mechanisms, however, require that markets be re-regulated or their effects be compensated through social policies.

Within the context of regulations and practices that must be introduced by the state organs in connection with their responsibilities defined in the Constitution and international conventions regarding the control of alcohol consumption, the civil society organizations are tasked with the primary duty of exerting influence on decision-makers at state organs, developing evidence-based strategies, raising awareness of the public about the control of alcohol consumption and mustering the public support for the measures for controlling the alcohol consumption.

In this context, the primary purpose of the organization that came together under the umbrella of the Turkish Alcohol Policy Platform is to promote effective combat against alcohol consumption, a problem which has grown in scope and come to make strong impact on health and social factors since the abolition of the state monopoly and introduction of free market mechanisms in 2004, foster public services that required for the improvement of social welfare and social and individual health, and contribute to the development of alcohol control measures in the light of scientific, technical and economic assessments for the elimination of concrete costs as well as invisible (discrete) costs of alcohol consumption and the minimization of harms of alcohol consumption.