"Smoking-ban murder"

ISTANBUL Fri Jul 31, 2009 12:05pm EDT

An employee of a bank smokes a cigarette at his workplace in Pontevedra, northern Spain December 15, 2005. REUTERS/Miguel Vidal

An employee of a bank smokes a cigarette at his workplace in Pontevedra, northern Spain December 15, 2005.

Credit: Reuters/Miguel Vidal

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A restaurant owner in southwest Turkey was shot dead after he tried to prevent his customers from smoking to comply with a new law on the use of tobacco indoors, Hurriyet daily said on Thursday.

A fight broke out after Hidir Karayigit, 46, ordered a group of customers to extinguish their cigarettes when they began smoking at his "meyhane," a traditional restaurant that serves alcohol, in the town of Saruhanli, Hurriyet said.

One of the customers shot Karayigit four times after he took away the group's cigarettes, said witness Hamza Havutcu, Karayigit's business partner who was also shot and wounded.

Turkey's government on July 19 introduced a nationwide ban on indoor smoking, including bars and restaurants, despite the fact that half of Turks aged between the ages of 15 and 49 smoke; one of the highest rates in the world.

"I'm deeply saddened that the first smoking-ban murder occurred in our town," Saruhanli Mayor Veli Yalcin told Hurriyet. "They either shouldn't have outlawed smoking or they should have outlawed alcohol along with smoking."

(Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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