With the recent amendments dated December 12, 2018 to the Law no. 4207 on Prevention and Control of Hazards of Tobacco Products, Turkey starts applying plain packaging for cigarette and tobacco products. The plain packaging limits and prohibits the use of trademark logos and tempting colors on tobacco packages; and it only allows the use of standardized word marks on them.

The rationale of the referred amendments is to reduce the consumption of tobacco and related products in an aim to protect the public health by standardizing the packaging and eliminating the tempting features of the marks and packages.

According to the new rules:

  • Tobacco products produced in Turkey or imported through Turkey should be in plain and standardized packages. The writing style, font, type size, location on the package, the color of the packages, other texts, phrases and shapes should be designed and placed in the same way.
  • The trademark should be written on one side of the package without exceeding 5% area of the side. Trademark logos, symbols or other signs shall not be used on the package
  • The size of Turkish warnings or messages with illustrations which indicate the damages of tobacco products on the packages increased from 65% to 85%.
  • Use or display of tobacco products or their images is prohibited in movie theatres or theatres while it was prohibited for many years in TV programs, movies, TV-series, music videos and advertisements.
  • Use or display of tobacco products or their images is not allowed in public social media platforms and similar environments for commercial and advertising purposes.
  • The tobacco or tobacco products is not allowed for sale within hospitals, universities, stadiums, sports centers, galleries, art centers, opera houses et cetera as well as their premises such as university campuses.

The new rules took effect starting from December 05, 2018. The tobacco products which have been produced in Turkey or imported through Turkey before December 05, 2018 should become compatible with the said regulations above in seven months. The procedure and rules for plain and standardized packages will be governed by means of a regulation to be enacted by the Ministry of Agriculture.

With this new Law, important changes have been made in the tobacco market. The prohibition of the use /display of tobacco products or their images in social media platforms is problematic as the line between commercial use and personal use is quite narrow when it comes to influencers. Also adding to the worldwide discussions about plain packaging, the new regulations have also been strongly criticized in Turkey being touched the essence of the right to property, namely the IP rights.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.