Cheers as Indonesia Gets Serious on Smoking, 16/12/09

Students protesting against smoking on World Anti-Tobacco Day in Jakarta earlier this year. (JG Photo/Safir Makki)

Students protesting against smoking on World Anti-Tobacco Day in Jakarta earlier this year. (JG Photo/Safir Makki)

Anti-smoking activists on Wednesday welcomed the government’s plan to ratify a World Health Organization treaty on tobacco control.

“It is urgent for Indonesia to ratify the convention,” said Tulus Abadi, chairman of the Indonesian Consumers’ Foundation (YLKI) and chief advocate at the National Commission for Tobacco Control.

Indonesia is one of only four countries that have yet to ratify the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which entered into force in February 2005. FCTC requires its 152 ratifying nations to implement effective methods to reduce tobacco use.

Budi Sampoerna, the head of the Health Ministry’s legal division, was quoted by Antara as saying on Tuesday that the FCTC Ratification Bill was being discussed by relevant departments.

“It has never been discussed in an interdepartmental forum,” he said, adding that the bill was among those prioritized by the House of Representatives.

In addition to the FCTC ratification bill, Budi said the ministry planned a revision of Government Regulation No. 19 of 2003 on Protection of Human Health Against Cigarettes.

Tulus said there were still too many cigarette advertisements influencing young people. “Around 60 percent of children in Indonesia are exposed to cigarettes,” he said.

Cigarette producers, he added, must put a picture on every cigarette pack, as is the case in most countries, informing smokers of the dangers to their health.

Kartono Mohamad of the Healthy Indonesian Coalition said there were two ways to implement the bill. “First, the government can raise the selling price of cigarettes,” he said.

Indonesia sells a pack of cigarettes for less than $1, one of Asia’s cheapest markets. Singapore, sells one pack for around $5. But the local tax on cigarettes is set to go up by 15 percent next year.

Second, Kartono said, the government must completely ban any form of promotion of cigarettes, especially for children.



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