Tobacco consumption in Indonesia is said to have reached emergency levels, says Laksmiati A. Hanafiah, the chairperson III of the Indonesian Heart Foundation and executive chairperson of the National Commission on Tobacco Control.
“Indonesia’s tobacco consumption, which is the third largest in the world after China and India, continues to increase,” said Laksmiati as quoted by kompas.com.
“The household spending for cigarettes is the second [highest] after rice. It’s even bigger than education,” she added at a conference in Jakarta on Wednesday.
According to the World Health Organization’s 2015 data, one-third of males between the age of 13 and 15 in Indonesia consumed tobacco, while up to 40 million children under the age of 5 across the country were passive smokers.
At the same conference, Dr. Ade Median Ambari said cigarette consumption led to 5.4 million early deaths per year and around 35 to 40 percent of deaths around the globe were caused by cardiovascular disease related to smoking.
Dr. Ismoyo Suni, the chairman of the Indonesian Cardiovascular Experts Association, said it fully supported the implementation of a cigarette tax “because it has been proven by a study in South Africa and France between 1990 and 2005 that a three-fold increase in cigarette tax will decrease the number of active smokers by half”.
Laksmiati said to control consumption in Indonesia, cigarettes should be made more expensive so that children and poor families, which make up 70 percent of all smokers in the country, would not be able to afford them.
She suggested that the tobacco bill should be scrapped because it only benefited the tobacco industry, which was supposed to admit that its product was dangerous.
Laksmiati said cigarette commercials should also be banned.
“How can a product that is dangerous still be advertised? Placing a limit [on the ads] is not enough. Such commercials have to be eliminated completely,” she added.
Ismoyo said clinics at the primary service level, which help smokers to quit, should be able to charge the Healthcare and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan) for their services.
“The non-smoking culture has to start at home and it has to be enabled by elementary and high school teachers. The Education and Culture Ministry also has to make not smoking an exam requirement,” he added.