Indonesia – a paradise for tobacco companies and hell for people
The most popular ignored phrase on the streets of Indonesia is the phrase “Dilarang Merokok” – No Smoking.
People with a cigarette are everywhere – in restaurants, cinemas, hotels and shopping malls. Indonesians are very fond of smoking and spend about 220 billion a year for buying tobacco products.
63 percent of men in Indonesia are smoker, but women and children inevitably become passive smokers or start smoking. The average family spends about 11 percent of their budget on cigarettes in Indonesia. This line of expenditure takes second place after rice; it is more than expenditure for fruits, vegetables and meat, education and housing.
While other countries in Southeast Asia have introduced stricter tobacco control, nothing has been done in Indonesia in order to stop the spread of tobacco.
This is one of the few countries that refuse to sign the World Health Organization convention on combating the spread of tobacco use, which entered into force in 2005. This contract is supported by 163 states and it is recognized as one of the most widely supported treaties in history.
Indonesia is a free zone for the tobacco companies; they can do whatever they want. The tobacco company can become a sponsor of a football match or pop concert, which will distribute free samples of their products. There tobacco companies conduct aggressive marketing campaign, aimed directly at teenagers.
According to David Stanford of the Indonesian consumer organization, Indonesia is one of the two countries in the world, which gives complete freedom of tobacco advertising on television. “The second country, which allows tobacco advertising on television, is Zimbabwe,” he says.
Tobacco companies are permitted to specify information about the dangers of tobacco on the cigarette pack on the back side or at the very end of the pack, in the places where it is not particularly visible.
Indonesian politicians lack the spirit to solve this problem by imposing restrictions and tightening the requirements for the advertising of tobacco. Indonesia has very low excise taxes on tobacco products and politicians are afraid of that they will lose most of the incomes if they start restrictive measures against tobacco products.
Nevertheless, 200,000 Indonesians die from smoking-related diseases each year. And this is a very conservative estimate based on incomplete data.
Indonesia is among the largest producers of tobacco. Approximately 80% of cultivated tobacco is used for cigarette production, the rest goes to the production of tobacco chewing and pipe tobacco and other tobacco products.
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