Help Stop Big Tobacco/Government
"Youth Campaign" in Turkey!

January 2002



In January 2002, Turkey's Minister of Privatization Yilmaz Karakoyunlu launched a "youth smoking prevention" program in collaboration with Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco International. Several newspapers also reported that the World Bank country director for Turkey, Ajay Chhibber, was supportive of the program (in response to requests made by Turkish activists and GPTC participants around the world the World Bank issued a public statement refuting these reports).

As internal tobacco industry documents clearly show, such industry-sponsored programs have nothing to do with lowering youth smoking rates and everything to do with thwarting effective tobacco control legislation. The key to the programs' credibility is in the involvement of the government and/or reputable organizations.

GPTC participant Elif Dagli (National Committee on Tobacco or Health - Turkey) and her colleagues successfully fought a similar program in the past. They need our assistance to win one more time!

Please find below: 1) Information on how to TAKE ACTION! 2) Further background information.

To maximize the impact of this letter writing campaign, please forward this action alert to your colleagues, members, and listservs. You might also write a letter for others in your coalition to sign onto. And if you work with a youth group or school, consider turning this into a group/class activity!


Please send faxes* (and emails) to the following people. Short messages are fine! Tell them: 1) Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco International's "youth smoking prevention" program in Turkey is a sham. Such programs are a common tobacco industry strategy for gaining credibility and thwarting meaningful tobacco control regulations around the world. 2) The Turkish government should protect the health of its citizens, not the profits of big tobacco companies. It should immediately cease its involvement with the program!

If you have time, we encourage you to include examples from the additional background information below. Feel free to use any relevant text from Essential Action's website.

* If you cannot send international faxes, email your message to Essential Action and we will fax it for you!

Names & Contact Information:

Mr Yýlmaz Karakoyunlu
Minister of Privatization (Turkey)
Fax: +90 312 425 22 47

Mr Bulent Ecevit
Prime Minister (Turkey)
Fax: +90 312 417 04 76

Mr. Ahmet Necdet Sezer
President (Turkey)
Fax: +90 312 427 13 30

Mr. Ajay Chhibber *
Country Director, World Bank (Turkey)
Fax: +90 312 446 24 42

* Updated Message for Mr. Chhibber: Thank the World Bank for issuing a public statement that clearly states that the Bank does NOT support tobacco industry-sponsored "youth smoking prevention" programs !

Please also email &/or fax copies of your letters to:
Elif Dagli, Fax: +90 216 411 90 46
Essential Action, Fax: +1 202-234-5176


Turkey and Tobacco
• Why Are Tobacco Industry "Youth Smoking Prevention" Programs a Sham?

Turkey and Tobacco

In response to Turkey's severe economic crisis in late 2000, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank forced the country to pass a law enabling the privatization of the state alcohol and tobacco enterprise TEKEL, as a condition for receiving over $15 billion in loans. Privatization of state tobacco monopolies is bad news for tobacco control. State tobacco monopolies are inefficient, have little motivation to advertise aggressively, and do not usually oppose tobacco control legislation. In many countries, opening up the tobacco market to multinationals has increased the overall smoking rate.

Before the tobacco sector law passed in January 2002 a second (and final) time, it met much resistance from TEKEL employees, tobacco farmers, government officials, and the public health community. Turkey's former Minister of Privatization was forced to resign over comments that he made regarding it. And the Turkish President vetoed it the first time around.

The new Minister of Privatization, Yýlmaz Karakoyunlu, has close ties to multinational tobacco companies. On January 21, he, Philip Morris, and Japan Tobacco International officially launched a "youth smoking prevention" program. According to Elif Dagli, Karakoyunlu was probably the only Turkish Minister that the tobacco industry could get to co-sponsor the program. And discussions about launching a youth program began during the controversy over the tobacco sector law - a conflict of interest for the Minister.

This is not the first time that Philip Morris has used its "youth smoking prevention" program strategy in Turkey. In the early 1990s the company sought to partner with the Ministry of Education, in order to
thwart a ban on tobacco advertising. An internal Philip Morris document has more details (the last page says it all!)

At the January news conference Minister Karakoyunlu acknowledged that Ajay Chhibber, the World Bank's Country Director for Turkey, also supported the youth program. An internet news server, whose journalists had taken minutes of the press conference reported on this and additional journalists subsequently cited the report in their columns (e.g. Dünya Gazetesi on 30th January). In correspondence to GPTC members, Mr. Chhibber stated that the World Bank does not support international tobacco companies nor associate itself with their youth programs. On February 12, 2002, the World Bank issued a public statement clearly stating its policy on tobacco and in particular, tobacco industry supported "youth smoking prevention" programs.

Why Are Tobacco Industry "Youth Smoking Prevention" Programs a Sham?
Check These Links Out!

International Tobacco Accountability Bulletin
Tobacco Industry "Youth Smoking Prevention" Programs
I -
II -

Take Action! - Tobacco Industy "Anti-Tobacco" Youth Programs (March 2001)

“Youth Campaign for Latin America,” Cathy L. Leiber, Director,
Corporate Affairs, Latin American Region, 23 September 1994

From Anne Landman's doc-alert listserv:

Philip Morris stated objectives for a youth program in the U.S. include "achieve a level of greater credibility," "blunt rhetoric," "more global: Create a model for world-wide use"

This internal Philip Morris email succinctly sums up the company's public relations purpose behind PM's "It's the Law" youth access program: "We have two objectives for the ITL [It's The Law] program -- 1) To provide an alternative to legislative/mandated policy actions; and 2) To improve PM's image regarding the youth issue." It does not mention that a goal of the PM program is reducing youth smoking.

This internal Philip Morris (PM) memo reveals that Philip Morris' will not use youth smoking prevention programs if they are perceived as having questionable credibility and generating controversy. If an increasing number of people publicly question the credibility of industry-sponsored youth smoking prevention programs (and if fewer organizations can be persuaded to endorse these programs) clearly the less likely the industry will be to continue using them.

Essential Action
Global Partnerships for Tobacco Control

P.O. Box 19405 ~ Washington, DC 20036
Tel: +1 202-387-8030 ~ Fax: +1 202-234-5176