This guide was written by Francine Carrel, Assistant Editor of Guides.Global (firstname.lastname@example.org).
It was written on 14 February 2017. The law and practice in Turkey change all the time. Our guides are updated as frequently as possible - typically every three years - but may be out of date.
Our guides are prepared by professionals from many countries. They are, of necessity, both brief and general and can take no account of your personal circumstances. They are intended to be a good introduction to the subject BUT ARE NO SUBSTITUTE FOR PROPER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE, which our contributors will usually be happy to provide upon request.
The advice and opinions contained in the guides are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Guides.Global.
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This guide is about narcotics in Turkey: their prevalence and the laws surrounding them.
Turkey is doing a good job of reducing smoking and keeping drug use down - using laws that many may think excessive.
If it's just a drink you're after, you are unlikely to have a problem in towns or cities, although not everywhere will serve you booze. Just don't assume that the Turks you know will want to join you for a beer - many are conservative Muslims.
A person must be 18 years old or over to purchase or consume any cigarettes or other tobacco products.
Turkey has been restricting indoor smoking since 1997, when the country banned cigarette smoking in offices with more than four workers as well as buses and aeroplanes.
Smoking is also prohibited in some areas where activities are taking place. If in doubt, ask someone in charge or refrain from lighting up.
Breaking the law by smoking where it is banned can result in a fine of around 100 TL (US$27). Businesses face an array of heavy fines for breaking smoking-related laws.
Between 2009-2013, 63million TL (US$17.1million) in fines were handed out to both individuals and businesses.
Expect to pay around 12 TL (US$3.2) for a packet of 20 cigarettes.
The sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages is limited to people over 18 years old.
The blood alcohol content limit is 0.05mg/ml. Being over this limit can result in a six-month driving ban.
Because Islam prohibits the consumption of alcohol, there are large portions of the Turkish population who do not drink. Likewise, there are many restaurants that will not serve alcohol. Some restaurants that would usually serve alcohol will not do so during Ramadan.
Even for people who do drink, becoming drunk is frowned upon. Turkey does not have the binge-drinking culture of, say, Britain.
You can buy locally-produced (yerli) or imported (ithal) versions of most alcoholic drinks. Local beverages are much cheaper.
Beer in Turkey is cold, fizzy lager. There is a good choice of wine, both red and white.
The national alcoholic drink is rakı, an aniseed-flavoured spirit similar to ouzo. This is served straight or with chilled water, depending on preference. It is particularly popular with seafood.
Expect to pay around 9 TL (US$2.4) for a domestic beer in a restaurant (or closer to 6 TL (US$1.6) in a shop). A bottle of wine could cost around 30 TL (US$8.1). It's around 13 TL (US$3.5) for a glass of rakı.
Turkey has very strict drug laws. The country is notorious for large fines and long sentences (4-24 years) in unpleasant prisons. Possession can be bad enough: but growing, dealing, providing a 'safe place' for people to do drugs, or smuggling are particularly heavily punished.
The laws are particularly strict for anything involving cocaine, heroin, morphine or other opiates.
Drug use is not prevalent in Turkey. According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, around 0.3% of the population said they had ever used cannabis. In the UK, the percentage is 26%.
Turkey is particularly harsh on people involved with drugs because of the people who traffick narcotics through the country (especially Kurdish militant group the PKK).
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Your experience with drink and drugs in Turkey will depend very much on the company you keep: conservative Muslims are far less likely to consume anything mind-altering.
Smoking in Turkey was once very common, but the government's concerted efforts to quash it have, so far, been quite successful.
|Turkey Country Guide
Essential facts and figures about Turkey
|Cultural Differences in Turkey
What culture shocks might you experience?
|Living from day-to-day in Turkey
What can you expect from daily life in Turkey?
|Turkey's Efforts Against The Drug Problem
Article from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
|Turkey Country Overview
Report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
All about Turkey's national drink
I hope you have found this guide useful. If you need any further help, please contact me.Francine Carrel 14 February 2017
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