Jakarta administrators blowing smoke on cigarette ad ban, 14/01/12

Six months after Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo’s announcement of a push for a smoke-free capital, neither the Jakarta administration nor the City Council appear ready to introduce a bylaw to ban cigarette advertisements in the capital.

Administration secretary Fadjar Panjaitan said recently the city was still in the preliminary stage of drafting of the cigarette ban.

“It is still under discussion. We have not set a deadline for the completion of the draft,” Fadjar told The Jakarta Post in recent interview.

The city secretary said that the administration had formed a special committee to draft the bylaw. The committee is under the supervision of the city’s assistants for development, environmental assistance and public health.

In July last year, Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo announced that the city would take more initiatives for a smoke-free capital, including reducing the space allocated for cigarette ads across the capital.

Fauzi said that the administration did not have the authority to thoroughly ban cigarette ads, but it could reduce the number of the ads put up by cigarette manufacturers.

The administration’s assistant for public health, Mara Oloan Siregar, said that the city was focusing on the implementation of a 2010 gubernatorial decree, which banned smoking in public spaces.

“We still need to work a lot on enforcing the smoking ban in public areas. The cigarette ads ban will surely be the next step,” Mara told the Post.

The Jakarta Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD) has issued more than 700 warnings to building managers as the city steps up enforcement of the gubernatorial decree.

Building managers were told to comply with the regulation or BPLHD would publicize the names of the buildings if no improvements are made.

Separately, the chairman of the City Council Regional Legislation Board (Balegda), Triwisaksana, said the city had no authority to ban cigarette ads.

“The jurisdiction for [the ban] falls under the central government and its ministries,” he said.

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician said that it was not yet necessary for the Jakarta administration to issue the ban.

“Let’s wait first for the central government to make the move, because this is a national-level issue,” Triwisaksana said.

In May 2010, the Jakarta administration issued a gubernatorial decree making it illegal to smoke inside certain buildings and workplaces in the city, including health centers, workplaces, places of worship, public transportation and areas dedicated to education and children’s activities.

The decree was an amendment to a 2005 bylaw that allowed smoking in designated areas in buildings.

Despite international pressure, Indonesia is among the few countries in the world that have neither signed nor ratified the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Statistics show tobacco consumption has grown by 26 percent over the last 15 years, placing Indonesia among the world’s three largest tobacco consumers. Data from 2008 revealed that one-third of the country’s 237 million people smoke. More than 60 percent of men smoke and the number of adolescents taking up smoking is on the rise.

Pressure, however, is mounting on the government to toughen regulations concerning prevention of tobacco-related diseases, particularly cancer, and cardiovascular and lung diseases, which kill more than 200,000 citizens every year.

The National Commission for Tobacco Control notes that the number of smokers in Indonesia reached 80 million people in 2010, the third-highest worldwide after China and India.

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