Jakarta. Vice President Jusuf Kalla has spoken out against a proposal by the House of Representatives to nominate Indonesia’s traditional clove cigarettes, or kretek, as an item of cultural heritage.
The proposal comes as the House Legislation Committee drafts amendments to the 2010 Cultural Heritage Law.
“There is nowhere else in the world that has a tradition of mixing cloves into tobacco except in Indonesia,” Taufiqul Hadi, a committee member, said on Tuesday as quoted by Tempo.
Under the committee’s proposal, kretek cigarettes would hold as much cultural importance as ancient temples, archaeological sites, traditional arts and dances, and local cuisines. By extension it would also make it harder for the government to impose restrictions on kretek sales and advertising, and in fact oblige the state to support the manufacture and promotion of the cancer sticks.
In a bizarre oversight, the world-celebrated traditional textile of batik – acknowledged by Unesco – has been omitted for similar consideration under the draft legislation.
Kalla expressed his disapproval of the promotion of kretek in the draft, but said he was confident it would not make it through to the final legislation.
“It’s just a draft that will be discussed at the House. Of course kretek shouldn’t be included,” he told reporters at his office on Tuesday.
Kartono Mohamad, an adviser to the Tobacco Control National Commission, also questioned the inclusion of kretek cigarettes into the bill, seemingly without regard for the public health implications.
“Items like the keris” – a traditional ceremonial Javanese dagger – “aren’t, so why would kretek be considered an item of cultural heritage?” he said on Monday as quoted by Tempo.