It is important to protect the freedom of non-smokers rather than smokers themselves, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday.
During a reception held for World No Tobacco Day at the presidential palace in Ankara, Erdogan said that there was no such thing as the “freedom to smoke”, likening it to “freedom to commit suicide”.
“What really matters is to protect the freedom of non-smokers, not the smokers,” he said, adding that it was the state’s responsibility to protect its citizens from tobacco, alcohol and drugs just like protecting homeowners from burglars and innocent citizens from terrorists.
“It is my personal principle to fight against smoking along with all harmful habits,” said Erdogan.
Many former smokers who quit thanks to an initiative by the Health Ministry were present during the reception. Erdogan said the Health Ministry provided free medication support for over 141,000 people who wanted to quit smoking in 2015.
The president also noted that a hotline introduced in 2010 for quitting smoking received around 23.5 million calls.
Erdogan also said that the Health Ministry declared the year 2016 as the “Fighting Against Tobacco” year.