Tobacco Industry’s Interference in Indonesia Highest in ASEAN

indo TI news

15 August 2016

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Widyastuti Soerojo, head of the special division for control at the Indonesian Public Health Scholars Association (IAKMI), said that the index of tobacco industry interference in Indonesia over the last two years had been the highest in ASEAN.

“In 2014, the index was 78 and increased to 82 in 2015,” Widyastuti said in Jakarta on Monday, August 15, 2016. “We have worst [index] among Brunei [Darussalam], Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Philippine, and Malaysia.”

Widyastuti explained there were seven categories of tobacco industry interference, including the level of participation in policy making, activities claimed as corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, benefits for tobacco products, unnecessary interactions, transparency, conflicts of interest, and prevention efforts.

Widyastuti revealed that the index of tobacco industry interference was formulated by involving three institutions, namely IAKMI, the Forum of Jakarta Citizens (FAKTA), and representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO). The index observation was conducted throughout 2015.

Widyastuti said that the index exposed tobacco industry interference.

“Thousands of toxic and addictive substance were sold, and they were aggressive in maximizing the profits,” Widyastuti said.

Widyastuti claimed that the tobacco industry had been using political and economic powers to tackle policies and implement strategy to weaken policies in detailed, well-funded, and sophisticated ways.

“We can say that this is a new form of colonialism without using physical weapons, but selling culture or social norm, addiction and reaping profits,” Widyastuti added.

Widyastuti explained that the new form of colonialism was reflected by the fact that four major tobacco industries own more than 80 percent of the market share. Philip Morris Indonesia currently owns 33 percent of the market share, followed by Gudang Garam with 28 percent, Djarum 12 percent, and Bentoel with eight percent. The rest of the market share is owned by Nojorono (six percent) and others (13 percent).

Widyastuti alleged that the government had allowed the tobacco industry to reap huge profits and degrade public health. This was indicated by former Industry Ministry Saleh Husin’s visit to tobacco companies a few months after his inauguration, as well as the issuance of Industry Minister’s Regulation on the Tobacco Industry Roadmap in 2015.