After the COVID-19 outbreak erupted in the country, Turkey's Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Services opened a bank account for citizens in need amid coronavirus on Turkey’s President Erdoğan’s call. Two tobacco companies participated in Turkish President Erdoğan’s fundraising campaign “Biz Bize Yeteriz, Türkiyem” (We are self-sufficient, Turkey).
PHILSA Philip Morris Sabancı Cigarette and Tobacco Inc. donated 4 million 724 thousand TRY while Japan Tobacco International Turkey (JTI Turkey) donated 1 million 255 thousand TRY, which ranked them both as the two of the highest donators. Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) announced these donations to the public with praises.
The donations were made against the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, signed by Turkey in 2004 and accepted by the law no. 5261 in the same year, banning donations by the tobacco industry.
The convention in question is a binding international agreement and has the force of law by the 90th article in the Turkish Constitution. It guarantees the protection of public health policies from the interests of the tobacco industry. The article 5.3 and 13, banning advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of tobacco, along with the Guidelines for Implementation concerning the enforcement of these articles require that all Parties should observe the principle of a radical and irreconcilable disagreement between the interests of tobacco companies and public health, that the government officials should avoid any conflict of interest, and have no fiscal relations with the tobacco industry.
Acceptance of donations has caused serious questionings on the sincerity of the fight against tobacco, revealing tobacco monopolies’ influence on the government.