Ashgabat (Turkmenistan) (AFP) – Turkmenistan’s authorities have forced shops to stop selling cigarettes, traders in Ashgabat said Thursday, after its president urged citizens to kick the habit.
State anti-narcotics officials “came to our shop recently and forced us to remove cigarettes from the shelves, threatening us with huge fines,” said Bairam Saryev, the 34-year-old owner of a small store in the capital.
Saryev’s shop was one of those targeted in a wave of raids in the isolated Central Asian country after President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov slammed the country’s anti-smoking strategy at a televised government meeting on January 5.
Berdymukhamedov, a former dentist, threatened to dismiss the chief of the anti-narcotics agency — called the State Service for Security of Healthy Society — calling for “mass measures to eradicate smoking.”
Since then, owners of kiosks and shops have only sold cigarettes under the counter and “only to regular customers and friends,” said one Ashgabat kiosk trader called Vepa.
The ban on cigarette sales has not been officially announced or published by the government.
It’s that last line that caught my attention. There doesn’t seem to have been any law enacted. It’s all being done by presidential edict.
I guess it’s essentially no different anywhere else. Smoking bans are almost always top-down edicts rather than bottom-up reflections of public opinion.
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