Electronic Cigarette Sales Continue Despite Prohibition in Turkey
In a recent statement, Murat Emir, a member of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in Ankara, highlighted that despite the ban on the importation of electronic cigarettes, their sale is being conducted on various internet websites. Emir has submitted a written parliamentary question to the Minister of Trade, Ömer Bolat, demanding answers regarding the lack of enforcement and responsibility by the Ministry of Trade. He further called for a ban on electronic cigarette sales and advertisements. This article aims to shed light on the issue of electronic cigarette sales and its implications for public health.
The Neglect of Public Health
Electronic cigarettes, which have become increasingly popular in our country, pose a significant health risk for the future. Despite the attempts of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Trade to tackle this issue through advertising campaigns and regulations, the banned electronic cigarettes and their components continue to be openly sold on various online shopping websites. This situation once again demonstrates how the government, like in other matters, is merely pretending to address the issue of smoking.
While these products are marketed as aids to quit smoking, they also contribute to severe addiction. Many electronic cigarette users continue to consume traditional cigarettes alongside their e-cigarette usage, which increases the likelihood of future health problems such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cardiovascular diseases. The active ingredients in electronic cigarettes are chemicals that have a negative impact on the respiratory system. Unfortunately, these effects extend not only to e-cigarette users but also to passive smokers. It is evident that public health is being disregarded once again.
The Ministry of Trade’s Negligence and Evasion of Responsibility
Electronic cigarettes with decreasing usage ages are now prevalent among middle school students. The availability of various flavors, colors, and models entices teenagers and young individuals to use these products. Some e-cigarettes even resemble fluorescent pens or erasers, making it easy for students to conceal them both at school and at home. Additionally, the use of electronic cigarettes facilitates the transition to traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products in the long run.
The ease of access to these products highlights the Ministry of Trade’s negligence and evasion of responsibility. The World Health Organization consistently emphasizes that these products not only emit harmful substances but also cause permanent damage to respiratory cells, warranting the need for action. Despite ongoing inquiries into electronic cigarette regulations since the tenure of Ruhsar Pekcan, the Minister of Trade in 2018, the problem persists, even with three different ministers in the past five years. We demand that the relevant ministries take the necessary steps, especially the ban on advertisements promoting health benefits in the online sphere. Subsequently, the websites involved in the sales must be identified, and deterrent penalties should be imposed.
Questions Directed to the Minister of Trade
Murat Emir also posed the following questions to the Minister of Trade, Ömer Bolat:
- How do electronic cigarette products, which are prohibited from importation and sale, manage to pass through customs?
- What kind of inspections were carried out concerning electronic cigarette imports in 2022?
- Were any sanctions imposed on e-commerce companies as a result of these inspections?
- If sanctions were imposed, which company received how much of a fine?
The unauthorized sale of electronic cigarettes on internet websites, despite the ban on importation, is a matter that requires urgent attention. It is evident that the Ministry of Trade’s failure to enforce regulations and assume responsibility has led to a disregard for public health. Electronic cigarettes not only perpetuate addiction but also contribute to the increased prevalence of serious health conditions. The government must take immediate action to ban the sale of these products and advertisements that promote them. Only through stringent enforcement and penalties can we protect the health and well-being of our citizens.