Turkeys government is stepping up its tough approach to alcohol

Turkey's government is stepping up its tough approach to alcohol

Diageo has said it will be "highly disappointed" if Turkey's government pushes ahead with its proposed raft of "severe" new alcohol laws, which includes a ban on drinks advertising in the country.

A draft government bill, published last week, also includes proposals to ban drinks companies from sponsoring events, restricting where drinks are sold and consumed, and forcing Turkish producers to include health warnings on packaging, Reuters reported. The bill is expected to become law before Turkey's parliament goes into recess in July, according to local reports.

"Our aim is to protect society, particularly children and youth, from taking up these habits at an early age, and not to limit an adult's alcohol consumption," Yahya Akman, of the ruling AK Party was reported as saying. 

When contacted by just-drinks, Galip Yorgancioglu, Diageo's Turkey MD said he recognised that the "severe restrictions" were "imminent". 

He added: "While we have regard and respect for both the views of the Turkish Government and the country’s legislative and regulatory processes, we would be highly disappointed if the most restrictive scenario came to pass." 

But Yorgancioglu said Diageo, which paid US$2.1bn for Turkish spirits producer Mey Içki in 2011, wants to work with the authorities. "We would sincerely value the opportunity to ... work with all relevant ministries to effect a more balanced outcome," he said. 

Tighter restrictions in Turkey, where Islam is the dominant religion, were first mooted when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a third term in office in 2011.

Turkish brewer Anadolu Efes and Pernod Ricard have yet to respond to a request for comment from just-drinks. Anheuser-Busch InBev, which launched Leffe and Hoegaarden in Turkey two years ago, declined to comment on the proposals.