High alcohol taxation blamed for rising home-brew booze deaths

At least 20 people died from drinking bootleg alcohol in Turkey in the last month as the government introduced heavy taxes on alcohol which is believed to have led to an increase in consumption of home-brews.

Turkish Haberturk reported that a person died from methanol poisoning in the city of Adana on the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

This was reportedly the 12th such death in recent weeks in Adana. Reuters reported that at least 23 people have died from alcohol poisoning across the country.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)  hiked alcoholic beverages by 8 percent in July. After the introduction of the tax, a liter of Turkey’s traditional aniseed-flavored raki spirit price increased to more than 200 lira ($35.29).

The Chamber of Chemical Engineers (KMO) has blamed the Turkish government for the deaths.

“A liter of an alcoholic drink is equal to the three-day wage of a worker with minimum wage… Nowhere in the world are the taxes on alcoholic drinks higher than Turkey,” the KMO said that deaths were a direct result of the high taxes.

Turkey’s Islamist ruling party banned all advertisement, promotion, and sponsorship of alcohol and tobacco products in 2013 and since then, tariffs on alcohol have increased steadily.

“The tariffs on alcoholic drinks and the oppressive attitude of the government on the consumption of alcoholic beverages result in illegally produced alcohol. The controls must be tightened,” Zafer Senyurt, chairman of the Chamber of Food Engineers in Istanbul, called on authorities to tighten controls on illegal alcohol, BirGun newspaper reported.

On Saturday, police in Istanbul said they seized one ton of alcohol and 880 bottles of bootlegged spirits at three separate venues in Istanbul, with a market value of around 250,000 lira, Reuters reported.

In Turkey, several people died from alcohol poisoning and some of them became blind, Reuters reported.

The Turkish Statistics Institute (TUİK) said the country’s annual inflation eased to 15.7 percent in June but one of the largest price rises was in alcoholic beverages and tobacco prices, which rose 8.88 percent in May and 19.24 percent in June.

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