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Turkey ready to extend ban on tobacco products

ANKARA, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- Turkey gets ready to extend ban on smoking in some outdoor areas open to the public after having banned tobacco smoking in enclosed public places, said Turkish Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu on Thursday.

Turkey has achieved success in establishing smoke-free areas, more than two million people had quit smoking, the Turkish health minister told reporters.

The health minister announced the new regulation in September which will ban smoking in parks, open areas of restaurants, cafes, teahouses, mosque yards and hospital gardens, and shopping mall entrances, as part of its National Tobacco Control Program 2014- 2018, according to the report.

Tobacco products will be packed up into black packages with the new regulation that will go into effect from January 2015.

According to the program, advertisements, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco industry will be closely monitored by the ministry.

In last five years, a remarkable decline of 7-8 percent has been achieved in figures of 15-25 age group that start smoking, the minister said. The government would also provide free support of medicines in centers designated for giving up smoking, Muezzinoglu added.

Turkish nationals consumed 16.2 billion fewer cigarettes since the ban imposed on smoking in enclosed areas in 2008, according to data from the Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Authority, the semi-official Anadolu Agency reported on Thursday.

The majority of Turkish citizens, whether smokers or non- smokers, support the plan, according the report.

"I completely support the planned regulation. I even support tobacco companies being shut down; I say this as someone who has been smoking for 15 years," the report quoted 46-year-old Nejat Kesen as saying.

The regulation would protect the health of non-smokers, Kesen said.

"I am even against those who are smoking while walking because when a person smokes, the cloud goes to the person directly behind him or her, which is very disturbing," said Selahattin Akdag, 65, who quit smoking seven years ago after a four-decade habit.