The Daunting Problem Associated With Smoking in Indonesia

Smoking is a huge problem not just in Indonesia but all over the world. There have been researches and studies going on to combat tobacco and reduce its frequency among the masses. Most of the developed and first world countries have strong regulations against smoking. But that's unfortunately not the case with smoking in Indonesia. However, sadly enough, Indonesia is a significant exception to this. The largest island country in the world is home to thousands of chain-smokers. Bizarre incidents related to tobacco addiction are nothing new to this country. In this article, let us study the present scenario of Indonesia concerning smoking and discuss issues which could help both tourists and residents tackle the problem.

Information Regarding Smoking in Indonesia

Smoking In Indonesia
1. General Scenario in Indonesia: Worldwide cigarette smoking has been going down significantly, but for one reason or the other, its graph still slopes upwards in Indonesia. The country of nearly 18000 islands is one of the topmost producers and consumers of tobacco. As of 2018, 76% of the Indonesian male population has been a victim to the vices of smoking.
As an aftermath of the smoking culture, tobacco claims over 30,000 Indonesian lives each year. 

2. Children as Victims: If you have already been worrying about Indonesians, here is something which is even more shocking. It has been reported that over 30% of the Indonesian children have smoked a cigarette even before turning 10. 

3. ‘The Smoking Baby’: An even more disturbing piece of news broke out in 2010 when an Indonesian 2-year-old boy named Aldi Rizal was reported to have smoked around 40 cigarettes daily. The story had created a lot of chaos nationwide forcing immediate actions. Luckily the boy is safe now from the brutal addiction and has gained the fame of the world’s youngest reformed smoker.
Kretek Cigarettes
4. Rule of The Major Tobacco Companies: Quite a few tobacco companies have an excellent grip over the Indonesian economy. Some of them include Gudang Garam, Sampoerna, Djarum, Bentoel Group and Nojorono International. As per the WHO (World Health Organization), Indonesia has ranked third in the world for the total number of smokers. 

5. Kretek Cigarettes:  88% of Indonesian smokers are said to use clove-flavoured kreteks. Containing a high concentration of tar and nicotine, these flavoured cigarettes are more appealing to the youth which results in heavy smoking in Indonesia. Kretek is very popular among the masses due to its cheap nature, ability to burn slowly and self-extinguishable capability. Kretek was once very popular among the lower classes of the society. However, off late, it became viral among the middle-income strata to the extent that it is viewed upon as a stereotypical local trait. 

Causes to the Problem

Advertisements of Cigarettes in Indonesia

There are a few direct reasons as to why smoking in Indonesia has become such a daily habit for the locals:

1. Economic Value: Cigarettes are ridiculously cheap in Indonesia. A pack of cigarettes cost around 17,000 IDR, equivalent to US$1.20. This makes cigarettes readily available and easily obtainable even by the poor people of the country. Every other shop and even global chains like the 7-11 sells cigarettes at an abnormally low price compared to the other countries.
2. Wicked Advertisements: As of 2017, tobacco companies of Indonesia spent approximately USD 474 million on television advertisements. Unlike other countries, their target customers include both adults and children. The cigarette producers have been intentionally aiming children as their future market through advertisements and sponsorships on activities in which teenagers are involved the most.

3. Absence of restrictions imposed: It is not illegal to smoke cigarettes in private offices, restaurants or bars. As if this wasn't bad enough, it is perfectly legal for a child of any age to buy and smoke cigarettes in Indonesia. Luckily for the Indonesians, the government, now alarmed by the impending danger, is contemplating introducing regulations that would ban the advertisements of cigarettes, smoking in private and selling cigarettes to children.

Exceptions to Laws for Smoking in Indonesia

Banned Smoking

Not adhering to the general tendency of smoking in the rest of the country, a few pockets have strict rules against smoking. Following the introduction of the strict anti-smoking laws in Australia and the West, the Island of Gods (Bali), has adopted a set of beneficial anti-smoking regulations. 

1. Public places where it is banned: The public places specifically include places of education, workplaces, and places of worship, recreation areas or areas frequented by children. Smoking in hospitals, maternity homes and other medical facility centres is also prohibited. Public transport services, shopping malls, markets, restaurants and airports also come under this list.

2. Where can you smoke: Travellers visiting Bali can smoke only in the designated smoke lounges. Tourists visiting Bali for the first time should keep an eye on the no-smoking signage installed in the smoke-free zones. To be on the safe side, it is even better to enquire the local public before smoking. However, the Bali airport does not have a single such lounge. So it is advisable to have a puff or two before heading towards the airport. 

Penalty for Smoking in Indonesia

Smoking Penalties
Although smoking is still not banned in Indonesia, there are few exceptions where one may get fined for smoking. As per a newly developed law, anyone caught smoking in the public places of Bali could end up paying 50,000 Rp(USD 5) and 3 months in jail.

Newly developed Smoking Control Laws

Smoking Control Laws
According to steps taken by the government in the recent past to combat the problem of smoking in Indonesia, here are a few rules which have come into action:

1. Smoke-Free Places: Smoking has been made illegal on public transport and in the following public places:
a. Healthcare facilities
b. Educational centres
c. Areas of Worship
d. Children’s playgrounds

The realisation of smoke-free places and restricted smoke places have been made possible by the laws passed by some local governments.

2. E-cigarettes: Lately, certain restrictions have been imposed on e-cigarettes. Some sub-national jurisdictions have enacted laws where smoking is prohibited and e-cigarette advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Your Role As A Responsible Tourist

Responsible Tourists
Indonesia has been fighting to come out of the vicious circle of smoking by now. The locals are profoundly affected and are always under the threat of getting affected by a smoke-related disease. As a responsible tourist, here are a few sets of rules one should consider following for the betterment of the Indonesians.

1. Do Not Encourage Underage Kids to Smoke: Child smoking is a severe problem in Indonesia. The official legal age for tobacco is 18 years but to no avail. The government authorities find it very hard to monitor these children. So it is advisable to restrict yourself from indulging in smoking activities in front of a minor. Allow yourself to step forward and take necessary actions in the instance of a child smoking.

2. No Smoking In Public Places: Restrict yourself from smoking in public places like hospitals, schools, places of worship, malls, etc. Anybody caught smoking in the hospital premises are warned and charged severely. Likewise, other public places are also gradually developing anti-smoking laws.

3. Smoking In Special Smoking Areas: To prevent non-smokers from the ill effects of smoking, smokers are advised to smoke within a particular smoking area surrounded by glass and closed off from other regions. In the recent past, several such smoking areas have been made in Indonesia due to the public demand for smoking-free zones.

4. No Smoking before a pregnant woman: Pregnant women are severely affected when exposed to the harmful smoke from cigarettes. In pursuit of becoming passive smokers, both the infant and the mother’s health is severely compromised. Hence, as another anti-smoking rule in Indonesia, people are fined for such an activity.

5. Smoking while Driving: Being chain-smokers, Indonesians used to smoke even while driving. This had led to numerous accidents, some of which turned out to be fatal. Hence, nowadays, there have been strict laws against this, and it is best to refrain from smoking while driving.

These anti-smoking rules should be enough to bring down the incidence of smoking in Indonesia in the long run. Nevertheless, if you are a smoker and plan to visit Indonesia, it is best to keep in mind the alarming situation of the country and act responsibly as a tourist. Keep anti-smoking laws in mind to avoid substantial penalties. Also, grab ample opportunities to help the nation fight this problem.

This post was published by Saptorshi Gupta

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