Turkish Alcohol Policy Platform held its first General Assembly

The Turkish Alcohol Policy Platform, established with the participation of 50 member organizations, held its first General Assembly meeting. Details were provided on the basic work, policies, and vision of the platform during the General Assembly meeting.

The objective is to muster a health movement that brings together all civil society organizations.

The Turkish Alcohol Policy Platform (TAPP), which was established on March 8, 2013 with the purpose of ensuring the supervision of alcohol consumption in compliance with contemporary norms, held its first General Assembly meeting. The new Executive Board was elected at the GA in which 50 member organizations participated. Following the meeting at the Sepetçiler Kasrı on Saturday, April 26, 2014, the members of the newly formed Executive Board held a press conference.

Prof. M. İhsan Karaman, the President of the Turkish Green Crescent Society, addressed the GA, indicating that the UK has been late to develop alcohol policies as the rate of heavy alcohol drinking has risen up to 46 percent among the young people aged between 14 and 16 in the country. “In our country, one thirds of high school students have tasted alcohol. We, as public health stakeholders, have decided to look for remedies for this problem with common sense before it gets out of control,” he said.

Following the GA meeting, the members of the Executive Board held a press conference. Lawyer İzzet Pulur from Istanbul Traffic Foundation, Dr. Necmi Sınanmış from the Turkish Liver Foundation, Dr. Gülşen Öztürk from the Culture, Family and Society Association, Hatice Saadet Kalyoncu from the Consumers Union, and Hanzade Tosun from the Istanbul Foundation of Women and Women’s Associations attended the conference. The press release was recited by Op. Dr. Mehmet Akif Seylan, the Deputy Chairman of the Turkish Green Crescent Society, on behalf of the TAPP’s Executive Board.

Noting that the public health organizations in question laid the foundation of the TAPP 1 year ago, Dr. Seylan explained that they now established the executive board after setting up a temporary one first. “Tobacco and tobacco products as well as drugs have eventually been acknowledged as a public health problem by the whole society thanks to the efforts by public health stakeholders. And today many civil society organizations operating in the areas affected by alcohol use such as traffic, consumer rights, liver health, women and family have launched another civil initiative.

“We know that serious alcohol policies have been introduced to deal with the alcohol-related problems in developed countries. We are proud to take this significant step before such problems have become complicated in our country which is being increasingly targeted by the alcohol industry with transition to the free market economy. Our goal is to ensure that all social groups become aware of the public health aspects of alcohol consumption and addiction. Our platform is open to all civil initiatives, and it aims to deal with this health issue with common sense and consulting with those initiatives,” he said.

The work for the establishment of the platform started in 2013. The platform focuses on the monitoring and assessment of the production, sale, consumption, advertising, and promotion of alcoholic beverages as well as on alcohol addiction. The TAPP has member organizations which include not only health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Turkish Green Crescent Society, the Public Health Specialists Association, the Turkish Heart Foundation, the Turkish Society of Cardiology, the Turkish Liver Foundation, the Life Health and Social Services Foundation, the National Pediatrics Association, the Autistic People Care and Training Association, and the Turkish Kidney Foundation, but also civil society organizations (CSOs) from various sectors, including the Istanbul Traffic Foundation, the Consumers Union, the Educators Trade Union, and the Craftsmen and Artisans Association.

In addition to the civil organizations, the public bodies like the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Public Health Agency of Turkey, the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, the Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Agency, and the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) take part in the platform as observers.