25 Oct 2011
Five questions with Elif Dagli
1. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO implement THE FCTC IN YOUR COUNTRY AND WHY?
As a physician for 30 years I helped patients relieve their pain due to health problems.
International laws have more power than all the physicians joined together.
FCTC is a mega-prescription for the health and wellbeing of a nation and should be enforced urgently.
Delaying the process means ignoring public suffering and death, and allowing the (tobacco) industry to kill deliberately.
I want my country’s people to lead a healthy life without being slaves to the multinational tobacco industry.
2. IN TERMS OF THE FCTC, WHAT IS YOUR ORGANISATION WORKING ON?
We introduced the FCTC process to the NGO community in Turkey by attending FCTC intergovernmental negotiations between 1999 and 2003, and promoting FCTC ratification in Turkey.
At present we are running a Bloomberg project to monitor FCTC implementation.
3. WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES YOUR ORGANISATION FACES WHEN IT COMES TO WORKING ON THE FCTC?
Lack of awareness about FCTC Article 5.3 – relationship of the industry with key opinion leaders; and the lack of political will for enforcement at the regulatory authority level.
4. WHAT SUCCESSES HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED WITH THE FCTC?
The implementation of smoke-free legislation was a great success in Turkey.
The national coalition and government worked together to:
• increase public awareness;
• counteract the tobacco industry’s misleading information and efforts to dilute tobacco control (TC) and its implementation; and
• inform and gain the support of the hospitality industry before and after enacting tobacco control law.
We achieved all this by:
• providing training about the legislation to health and education reporters, hotel and restaurant workers and inspection teams;
• addressing the media by organising 27 press conferences; issuing 60 press bulletins; visiting 58 columnists and organising 80 news interviews.
5. HOW HAS IMPLEMENTING THE FCTC HELPED REDUCE SMOKING IN TURKEY?
Turkey went smoke-free in July 2009; one year later 14 billion fewer cigarettes had been smoked and emergency hospital admissions had decreased by 20 per cent.
During that period:
• Consumption decreased from 107.56 million cigarettes to 93,355 cigarettes.
• Tax revenue increased by 21 per cent.
• 55 per cent of cafes, 31 per cent of restaurants and 62 per cent of bars had better air quality with significantly fewer particles.
• Shopping malls’ income increased by 5.5 per cent and 15,000 new cafes opened while 7 ,900 closed.