Indonesia: New regulations?

April 23, 2012

Indonesian tobacco companies will be forced to place photos of horrific health problems caused by smoking on every pack and advertisers will be banned from showing cigarettes under a planned government regulation.

The Health Ministry provided a photo of an Indonesian-made cigarette packets, sold abroad, featuring pictures of rotting teeth and diseased limbs, as an example.

Under the regulation, photographic health warnings will cover 40 percent of a cigarette pack, along with written warnings.

Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister Agung Laksono said Thursday that the government regulation (PP) on tobacco control would also mandate the designation of smoke-free zones.

“Unlike the existing regulation, the planned regulation will order cigarette makers to put not only written but also pictorial messages on the dangers of smoking on cigarette packages,” he said at a press briefing following a meeting on tobacco control at the Health Ministry.

Indonesia ranks third in the number of deaths due to smoking-related diseases globally, trailing China and India. People from all walks of Indonesian life are smoking, despite health warnings on cigarette packs.

Health Ministry data showed that it spent 2.11 trillion rupiah (US$229.99 million) on tobacco-related illnesses in 2010, with 1.85 trillion rupiah ($201 million) spent on in-patient services and 260 million rupiah ($23,000) for out-patient services.

The regulation would be an implementation of Law No. 36/2009 on health, which mandates a regulation controlling the distribution of addictive substances like tobacco.

But Agung said that smokers would still be allowed to light up.

“Each public facility may set up a smoking section that has direct connection to open air,” he said.

The Constitutional Court (MK) this week issued a ruling requiring the establishment of smoking rooms in every public building.

Article 115 Law No. 36/2009 on health stipulates that the local government must be responsible for the designation and monitoring of smoke-free zones in healthcare facilities, schools and educational centers, playgrounds, places of worship, public transportation and offices.

“Under the planned regulation, local administrations will have the authority to designate smoke-free zones,” Agung said. The regulation will also be more stringent on cigarette advertising, including a ban on displaying images of cigarettes, and the size of billboards and outdoor banners limited to less than 72-square meters.

“We don’t prohibit them to advertise their products but only encourage them to do it in a more responsible manner,” Agung said.

Separately, the Health Ministry’s legal bureau head, Budi Sampurna, said that in an early draft, it was proposed that outdoor advertisements be no larger than 16 square meters. The Indonesian Outdoor Advertisement Association proposed 6 by 12 meters instead.

“We decided that it should not exceed 72 square meters,” Budi said.

Deputy Health Minister Ali Ghufron Mukti said tobacco advertising near schools will be also outlawed.

“Education plays an important role in protecting young people against the bad habit of smoking,” he said, adding the number of young smokers continued to increase, making them more prone to disease.

The 2010 Basic Health Survey (Riskesdas) found that 17.5 percent of smokers were aged 10-14 years, up from 9.5 percent in 2001.

Source: The Jakarta Post (April 20, 2012)