Smokers Set to Challenge Regulations, 14/03/11

A community of clove cigarette smokers said on Thursday it was planning to file a judicial review against a joint ministerial decree regulating smoke-free zones.

“We strongly reject the joint ministerial decree, especially if it led to the legal consideration to issue another rule banning smoking rooms in buildings,” Habiburrahman, a lawyer for Komunitas Kretek (Clove Cigarette Community) told a press conference.

He said the joint ministerial decree, which was issued by the Health Ministry and Home Affairs Ministry on Jan. 28 and prohibits smoking in many public areas, was issued hastily without proper consideration.

“We will file a judicial review immediately and we will ask everybody whose rights have been violated by this decree [to join],” he said.

The lawyer has already filed a judicial review to challenge the 2011 gubernatorial decree issued by Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo banning smoking rooms inside public buildings, saying it violated the rights of ethical smokers.

“Ethical smokers are those who smoke for themselves. They never harm anyone else. There are many of them,” he said.
“From the point of view of ethics, smoking is not a violation of law. It even has a high excise tax levied on it.”

Daru Supriyono, an advocate and member of the community’s Yogyakarta branch, said not many people were aware of the gubernatorial decree issued by Fauzi. As a result, he said, most people only got to know about it long after it had been implemented.

“Many of us did not know about the decree until 180 days after it was issued, which means we can no longer file a judicial review to the Supreme Court to challenge it because it [the deadline] has expired,” he said.

“This is not about us supporting people to smoke. Smoking is an individual’s right, but this is about a systematic effort to hide a legal product by not providing the proper information.”

Habib said even though the 180-day time limit had expired, the community had decided to challenge the gubernatorial decree at the Supreme Court.

“We also challenged the regulation limiting people to challenge a decree within 180 days after it was issued. That’s too short,” he said.

Abisham DM, the group’s coordinator, said clove cigarettes should be treated differently from conventional cigarettes because they were part of a valuable national heritage.

“The clove cigarette industry is the only industry that can compete internationally because of its uniqueness. Why would we want to kill off this promising industry?” he said.

Abisham said the anti-tobacco campaign in Indonesia was part of a conspiracy to wipe out the local tobacco industry and open the way for imported cigarettes to dominate the Indonesian market.

Fuad Baradja, head of public education at the Indonesian Smoking Control Foundation (LM3), said challenges against the gubernatorial and the joint ministerial decree were ridiculous.

“Clove cigarettes part of our national heritage? Since when was something that gives a disease to the next generation considered part of the national heritage?” he said.

Fuad said even the United States had banned Indonesian clove cigarette from entering its market, not because of economic competition but because clove cigarettes were even more dangerous than filtered cigarettes.

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