24 June 2014: The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), a regional network of anti-tobacco advocates, fully supports Indonesian public health community and called on the tobacco industry to comply with the Pictorial Health Warnings (PHW) Regulations in Indonesia.
SEATCA Senior Policy Advisor Dr. Mary Assunta said, “The Indonesian tobacco industry has no excuse but to be 100 percent fully compliant with the Government Regulations. Anything less than 100 percent compliance is breaking the law,” the alliance added.
Dr. Assunta appealed to the Indonesian government to step up enforcement to ensure the law is being fully implemented. The authorities must send a loud message that Indonesia is very serious about law enforcement and protecting the welfare of its people, particularly children.
There is overwhelming evidence the world over that pictorial health warnings are more effective than text-based warnings in reducing tobacco use, and particularly in preventing children from starting this deadly habit.
Each day the pictorial warning is delayed, an additional 10,800 children between the ages 10- 14 years start smoking in Indonesia. In one year 3.9million new smokers are added to the current 65 million in Indonesia. The pictures are gory because they tell the truth about what smoking related diseases look like, and what they do to a smoker. It is not like the pictures of glamour and fun that the industry puts in its adverts and lies to the public.
“The tobacco industry in Indonesia had the longest implementation time in Asia – 18 months. During that time 285,000 people died in Indonesia from tobacco related diseases,” Assunta said. “24th June is the deadline and the industry must be compliant but looks like they have no respect for the law or the people of Indonesia.”
In other ASEAN countries pictorial warnings were introduced in a much shorter time frame – 6 months in Singapore and Brunei, 1 year in Malaysia and Vietnam.
Tobacco companies in Indonesia have been exporting cigarette packs with pictorial warnings to Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei over the past 10 years. So they have no excuse at all, but seem to be deliberately delaying in warning Indonesian public.
Delay tactic in compliance is a common practice of the tobacco industry which the government must not tolerate. Civil society and tobacco control advocates assured the Indonesian government that they will be partners in monitoring the implementation of the Regulations and the compliance of the tobacco industry.