Neoliberal policy impact: supply-side growth and emergence of duality in Turkish tobacco product market
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Turkish National Coalition on Tobacco or Health, Turkey
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A691
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In Turkey, adoption and implementation of MPOWER strategies were accompanied by a neoliberal tobacco policy framework aiming at supply-side growth, initiated in 1980's and culminating in Law No 4733 in 2002, which solidified liberalization, privatization, and market efficiency rules for tobacco manufacturing and trade, and guaranteed oligopoly conditions for transnational tobacco companies (TTCs). This study employs empirical market dynamics data to argue that demand reduction strategies cannot be pursued effectively in tandem with neoliberal policies.

Legal market dynamics are gauged with official data (2003-2016) on licenced tobacco products. The magnitude of illicit product market is assessed by employing prevalence data and estimations in secondary sources.

During 2003-2016,
(a) Manufacturing and exports of licenced products have risen sharply (Cigarette manufacturing by 3 billion sticks/year; 2 new cigarette brands licenced per month). The declining trend in legal cigarette sales since 1999 was disrupted during last 5 years and was pushed upward.
(b) In addition to illicit cigarettes (market share 7.5%), the staggering growth in illicit RYO tobacco, estimated at 15,000 tonnes for 2016 by Tobacco Experts Association, represents 20.5 billion cigarette equivalents, which explains legal sales of 19 billion macarons (empty cigarette tubes) in 2016. Estimated share of illicit products in total consumption has thus reached unprecedented level of 27%. Furthermore, using prevalence data, WPT market is estimated as 99% illicit.

Both legal and illicit tobacco product markets are growing in Turkey, indicating neoliberal framework has had far larger de facto impact than demand reduction efforts, and Law No 4733 is failing, given emergent duality between legal and illicit markets epitomised by TTCs and domestic outfits, respectively. This picture is in clear defiance of FCTC objectives, principles, and obligations, and calls for reversal of neoliberal legacy and incorporation of supply-side measures to control tobacco manufacturing and trade and increase demand reduction effectiveness.