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Jakarta Post

Tobacco bill pro business, lacks health considerations: Expert

  • Callistasia Anggun Wijaya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, December 22, 2015   /  07:40 am
Tobacco bill pro business, lacks health considerations: Expert Dangerous business: Indonesian government was known to have close-knit relationships with cigarette companies, and to be in various forms of cooperation, including through sponsorship and donations. (Photo: Antara)

Dangerous business: Indonesian government was known to have close-knit relationships with cigarette companies, and to be in various forms of cooperation, including through sponsorship and donations. (Photo: Antara)

Noted economist and environmentalist Emil Salim has criticized the tobacco bill, which has been included in the National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) for 2016 for lacking consideration of the health of those affected by tobacco products.

'€œThe bill seems to only focus on the industry side of cigarettes, such as their production, distribution and packaging, while cigarette consumption itself has various impacts on the health of people, the environment and society,'€ said Emil.

He particularly criticized a provision in the bill that states '€œfor cigars, tobacco leaves, shredded tobacco, and other tobacco processed products, labels that explain tar and nicotine content and health pictorial warning are not required.'€

'€œSubstantially those kinds of tobacco products also contain tar and nicotine,'€ he said.

The bill also stipulates that control of the consumption of tobacco will only be carried out by sales provisions, advertisement, promotion, sponsorship, the determination of smoke-free areas, socialization and rehabilitation, development and supervision.

'€œThe bill does not provide for the reduction of tar and nicotine even though those substances have made people addicted to cigarettes'€ said Emil.

Sanctions for people who sell cigarettes to children are also not included in the draft. It only prohibits the involvement of persons under the age of 18 in tobacco advertisement and promotion.

'€œThis draft of the bill is really supply-sided because it does not consider the health impact on smokers,'€ he said.

Emil also questioned the background of the draft.

'€œWhy should tobacco be regulated separately as a lex specialis when it has been included in agricultural law? What makes it more special than rice, sago or corn? It is clear that cigarette producers are behind this draft of the bill,'€ said Emil.

He referred to an oligopoly of cigarette producers in Indonesia.

'€œThis bill will be a huge disaster if it is enacted,'€ said Emil.

He added that currently Indonesia had the third-highest number of smokers after China and India.

In 2015, the losses caused by cigarettes amounted to Rp 378.75 trillion (US$27.46 billion). This figure came from the purchase of cigarettes, and the costs related to ill health caused by the use of cigarettes. (bbn)

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