By Mustafa Calkaya and Merve Ozlem Cakir
Over 1 trillion cigarettes worth 328.8 billion Turkish liras (around $154.1 billion) were consumed in Turkey over the last decade, according to government data.
Spending on cigarette consumption in the country rose from 2008 to 2017, sources at Turkey's Food, Agriculture and Livestock Ministry told Anadolu Agency on Thursday, asking not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
Cigarette usage has inched down, but spending has risen. In 2017, 55.9 billion liras (around $15.3 billion) were spent on over 106 billion cigarettes, versus 2008, which saw 18.3 billion liras (around $14.1 billion) spent on nearly 108 billion cigarettes.
Turkey also exported around 356 billion cigarettes worth $3.6 billion over the decade, including 2017 exports of 49.3 billion cigarettes worth $484.2 million.
To deter consumption, Turkey has restricted tobacco use in closed public areas since 2008, and required warning labels on tobacco products since 2010.
In 2005, Turkey’s rate of tobacco product usage for males over 15 was 51.5 percent and for females 16.7 percent, but by 2015 these rates fell to 39.5 percent and 12.4 percent, respectively, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) data.
The WHO estimated that by 2025, these rates would drop to 30.7 percent and 9.2 percent.
According to the WHO, in 2015 Indonesia had the world’s highest smoking rate with 76.2 percent, followed by Jordan (70.2 percent) and Kiribati (63.9 percent), a small Pacific island nation.
Turkey ranked 49th with a 39.5 percent overall smoking rate on the WHO list.
* Gokhan Ergocun contributed to this story.