Troubles for Turkey over tobacco?

A letter of intent has been signed for Turkey to host a Grand Prix in 2005 and a new racing circuit is under construction but there have been warnings recently from the Turkish Ministry of Health in Ankara that it will not support tobacco advertising at the event.

"Tobacco commercials would not be appropriate on this date,' said Prof Dr. Necdet Unuvar, a lecturer from the Erzurum University Medical Faculty who has been Under Secretary to the Health Minister Recep Akdag since the end of last year.

There may not be a problem, however, as it was reported in July that the Turkish Federation of Automotive and Motor Sports (TOMSFED) bid to host an event was opposed by the previous Health Minister Osman Durmus until TOMSFED pledged that the race would have no tobacco branding.

Tobacco is a big issue in Turkey where 6.5 bn packets of cigarettes are smoked every year. However the new government is selling off the state tobacco monopoly Tekel, hoping to raise $2bn.

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