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Two steps forward, one step back: the lead up to tobacco plain packaging policy in Turkey.

journal contribution
posted on 14.01.2022, 06:10 by Melis Selamoğlu, Sally FawkesSally Fawkes, Ayşe Emel Önal, Deborah GleesonDeborah Gleeson

This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Health Promotion International following peer review. The version of record- Melis Selamoğlu, Sally Fawkes, Ayşe Emel Önal, Deborah Gleeson, Two steps forward, one step back: the lead up to tobacco plain packaging policy in Turkey, Health Promotion International, 2021, daab033, - is available online at:

The Turkish government first announced its intention to proceed with tobacco plain packaging legislation in 2011; however, it was 7 years before the legislation passed in December 2018. This study (conducted in 2018 before the legislation was passed) explored the policy context in Turkey between the first announcement that plain packaging legislation would be introduced and the passage of the legislation in 2018, and identified barriers and facilitators influencing its introduction. Publicly available documents relevant to plain packaging in Turkey were analysed. Interviews were conducted in 2018 with ten key informants including academics, bureaucrats in government ministries and leaders of non-government organizations (NGOs). Thematic analysis was undertaken, using a framework for systematically analysing how issues reach the policy agenda. The introduction of plain packaging legislation proved to be problematic, with many false starts and delays. Findings suggest these were mainly due to political barriers including changes in government, tobacco industry opposition and the national economic crisis. However, plain packaging legislation in Turkey managed to advance on the policy agenda, primarily through the collaborative advocacy efforts of NGOs, academics, and leadership from particular tobacco control advocates and politicians. Turkey's experience provides lessons for the wider uptake of tobacco plain packaging legislation, illustrating the critical importance of building effective coalitions between a range of stakeholders and political support within government while raising public awareness. Lay summary This research provides insights into the barriers and facilitators of decision making and action that shaped the process of introducing tobacco plain packaging legislation in Turkey. Major barriers that slowed Turkey's progress in enacting plain packaging included the financial and national economic crisis in 2018, changes in health ministers and opposition by the tobacco industry. A major facilitator of the policy process was the collaborative advocacy efforts of non-government organizations, academics, politicians and the leadership of certain tobacco control advocates. The insights from this case study may help other low- and middle-income countries to anticipate and successfully navigate the challenges involved in introducing tobacco plain packaging, an important policy measure for reducing the burden of tobacco-related disease in their populations, and its social and economic impacts. Building effective coalitions and fostering and supporting leadership are important strategies for the successful introduction of plain packaging legislation.


Publication Date



Health Promotion International




Oxford University Press



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