Home-brew alcohol kills 23 in Turkey as taxes soar

Rising alcohol prices are increasingly pushing Turks to consume bootleg sprits, which have claimed more than 20 lives in the past month, Reuters reported.

At least 23 people have died from alcohol poisoning across the nation after a government tax hike of at least 8 percent on most alcoholic beverages in July. A litre of Turkey’s national aniseed-flavoured drink, rakı, now costs more than TL 200 ($35.14).

A man in the southern province of Adana died from methanol poisoning, marking the 12th such incident in recent weeks in Adana alone, Reuters said.

“A litre of an alcoholic drink is equal to three days of wages of a worker on the minimum wage ... Nowhere in the world are the taxes on alcoholic drinks higher than Turkey,” it quoted the Chamber of Chemical Engineers as saying.

Turkish media in recent years have reported a rise in alcohol poisoning from a sharp uptick in bootleg alcohol production.

Tariffs on alcohol have increased steadily under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. All advertising, promotion and sponsorship of alcohol and tobacco products has been banned since 2013.

Police in the country’s largest city of Istanbul on Saturday seized one tonne of alcohol and 880 bottles of bootlegged spirits at three separate venues, with a market value of 250,000 lira ($43,682)