Turkey has banned the sale of hand-rolled cigarettes as part of a crackdown on illegal cigarettes. Violators risk prison terms ranging from three to six years, reports Daily Sabah.
In response to rising cigarette prices, Turkish smokers have been turning to roll-your-own cigarettes, which are considerably less expensive than factory-made smokes.
Authorities suspect at least some of these products to have avoided tax; it is difficult to trace the contents of hand-rolled cigarettes that are sold in packs without official brands.
According to media reports, Turkey is now home to more than 25,000 tobacco shops whose earnings mostly depend on the sale of hand-rolled cigarettes and raw tobacco. Illegal online sales of hand-rolled cigarettes also proliferated in recent years, complicating efforts to track down illegal sales.
Studies show hand-rolled cigarettes illegally sold in tobacco shops contain a high level of cadmium and lead and other materials harmful to the health.
Yuksel Denli, deputy head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s department of tobacco and alcohol hopes the new regulations will prevent a yearly tax loss of about TRY9.5 billion ($1.4 billion).
Turkey has taken stricter measures against smoking in recent years. The percentage of smokers in the country is 28 percent, according to official figures.