return to HOME

From main-stream daily Hürriyet 19 August, 2004. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton

THE VILLAGE WHERE SMOKING IS BANNED

A cigarette ban has been in force in Bahçecik Village in Hilvan Sub-province of Şanlıurfa for the past three years. This year, the penalty for smoking cigarettes in the village has been set at two sheep and 250 million lira.

Bahçecik village headman İsmail Yetkin said that the appearance of various health problems among children and chain smokers living in the village prompted him to take this suggestion to the village elders.

A meeting was then called and he proposed banning the smoking of cigarettes in the village, chiefly in closed but also in open spaces.

Yetkin pointed out that the vast majority of the elders, being chain smokers, reacted with hostility, but said that he put up a strong fight and persuaded the elders to discuss the matter.

Explaining that the discussions ended in a decision to introduce the ban on smoking, Yetkin said:
“We started by applying the rule to the elders. We stepped up the checks over this time. However, we witnessed one of our members, Suphi Yetkin, a signatory to the decision, secretly smoke a cigarette. Yetkin, whom we ordered to pay a fine of two sheep and 50 million lira, left the village. But he later returned to the village and accepted his fine.”

THE BAN EVEN APPLIES TO VISITORS

İsmail Yetkin speaks of how three years ago he brought the villagers together, told them of the harm caused by cigarettes and said that the ban would henceforth apply in homes and on the street.

Yetkin, commenting that symbolic fines of 30 million lira have been imposed on some 50 people who have failed to respect the elders' sensitivity on this matter, says that he has made sure the money goes to good use. Noting that the money from the fines collected is used for village education and health services, Yetkin said:
“At first, some villagers complained. But they got used to it over time. A cigarette ban has been in force in our village, home to about 300 people, for three years. We even remind guests coming to visit us who want to smoke of the ban and we don't let them smoke. This year, we the elders have set the fine for smoking at two sheep and 250 million lira, and this decision has been ratified.”

Yetkin added that their opposition to smoking has set an example for neighbouring villages. Hilvan Sub-provincial governor Niyazi Erten spoke of his surprise when he was first appointed to this post on learning of the three-year ban in force at Bahçecik village. Erten, explaining that he made a private visit to the village and saw that the ban was rigorously enforced, praised the villagers for their “exemplary” stand.

Archive of Turkish press translations by Tim Drayton