The Jakarta Post
As the House of Representatives is about to deliberate the controversial Tobacco bill, the Health Ministry is standing its ground in opposing the draft, saying cigarette consumption is a health hazard that causes trillions of rupiah in state losses.
The Research and Development Agency at the Health Ministry has found that Indonesia suffers annual losses of Rp 500 trillion (US$37.5 billion) from the negative impacts of smoking, a number that accounts for a quarter of the state budget.
“Smoking brings negative impacts, both directly and indirectly,” the agency’s chairman, Siswanto, said on Tuesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
Direct impacts, for example, are that many smokers get smoking-related illnesses and have to spend a lot of money on medical treatment, expenses that become the responsibility of the Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan).
As for indirect impacts, he cited the fact that many family heads die earlier due to smoking, leaving their families in poverty.
“When a husband dies at the age of 50, 20 years are lost. If we multiply that with the minimum wage, it can reach Rp 500 trillion,” Siswanto, said referring to Indonesians’ average lifespan of 70 years.
Thus, Siswanto said, his ministry was pushing for an increase in the cigarette tax as part of tobacco control efforts to help reduce consumption, as the ministry believed higher cigarette prices would reduce the number of smokers. Meanwhile, the tax funds could help increase the budget for health care programs. (foy/rin)