Without tougher efforts to control cigarette consumption, Indonesia is likely to fail in achieving “demographic dividends” which may occur during the period of 2020-2030, a demographer says.
Abdillah Ahsan, a researcher from the Demographic Institute of the University of Indonesia (UI)’s Economics Faculty, said Friday that increased cigarette consumption would damage health-related quality of life of the Indonesian people, possibly affecting the country’s success in achieving its demographic dividend.
“I am worried that we may not be able to achieve our demographic bonus during the period of 2020-2030 unless we strive for tougher efforts to control cigarette consumption in our country,” he told a press briefing on tobacco control at the Health Ministry.
Indonesia will enjoy its first ever “window of opportunity” during the period of 2020-2030, during which the country’s dependency ratio will reach 44 per 100 people in “productive age”. This means that in a family of four, three of four persons in the family are economically productive while at the same time they have to cover costs for only one family member.
“In the period, Indonesia can have more chances to increase people’s prosperity because while economically they remain productive, they are less of a burden to the family and they can save or invest the income they earn in a more productive way,” said Abdillah.
The dependency ratio in Indonesia stood at 86 per 100 people at productive age in 1987, meaning that one person had to work to cover basic needs of one family member. During the forecast 2020-2030 period, the country’s dependency ratio will hit its lowest point ever, in which three persons will work for only one family member, possibly generating huge national savings.
“It can become a source of economic growth,” said Abdillah.
Decreased cigar consumption is one of several preconditions, including growing labor force supply, increased chances for women entering the labor market, productively-invested household savings and better quality investments on health and education, which will translate into the demographic bonus a country does achieve into real economic growth.
“Increasing cigar consumption will not only reduce the health-related quality of life of our people but also threatens the achievements of the demographic bonus,” said Abdillah.
Non-communicable diseases now appear as one of a triple burden of diseases Indonesia must deal with, including incompletely resolved infectious diseases and emerging and re-emerging diseases.
“While we are still dealing with infectious diseases, we now must cope with growing non-communicable diseases which can cause not only more deaths but also a heavier burden of health costs,” said the ministry’s non-communicable disease control chief, Ekowati Rahajeng.
The Health Ministry data shows that non-communicable diseases accounted 59.5 percent of total leading causes of deaths at all age groups in 2007.
Smoking is closely associated with many non-infectious diseases, such as hypertension, stroke, Tuberculosis, cancer and heart diseases. In Indonesia, cigarette consumption causes 300,000 deaths per year. Despite tighter tobacco control, studies show that Indonesia remains one of countries with highest number of smokers.
According to the UI’s Demographic Institute, the prevalence of smoking stood at 34.7 percent in 2010, up from 27 percent in 1995. Adult male smokers accounted 66 percent in 2010, up from 53 percent in 1995, meaning that two of three adult males were smokers.
“It is now almost difficult for us to find a man who is not a smoker,” said Abdillah, adding that adult female smokers accounted for 4.2 percent of Indonesian smokers in 2010, up from 1.7 percent in 1995.
Even worse news emerged when it was revealed that the number of young smokers was also on the rise. Only 7 percent of young people aged between 15-19 were smoking in 1995. The number increased to 19 percent by 2010, up more than two fold. “It is alarming,” said Abdillah.