Jakarta MPs call for tough steps to curb smoking

INDONESIAN legislators are calling for firm measures to curb smoking in the country – including expanding no-smoking areas, banning cigarette advertisements and restricting licences for new cigarette factories.

A report in The Indonesia Times yesterday said that the Members of Parliament raised these measures on Tuesday during a meeting with the Indonesian Cigarette Factories Association (Gappri).

The move came amid concern about the increase in the number of people smoking, especially children under 18 years.

The report quoted Golkar MP Rubianto Koestomo as saying: “If this fact is neglected, it will harm the children’s future.”

Besides calling on the government to prohibit children below the age of 18 from smoking, the MPs also suggested that more non-smoking areas be demarcated, particularly in Jakarta to discourage the habit.

In similar vein, Indonesia’s 550 cigarette factories should also play their part by providing clear information about the dangers of smoking.

The MPs were critical that they had failed to do this so far, which led to calls to restrict the issue of licences to new factories.

MP Darmansyah said that a related problem was cigarette advertisements which portrayed smoking as a “masculine activity”.

She said: “The fact remains that smoking threatens people’s lives. It causes heart and lung diseases.”

A senior Gappri executive, Mr Ismanu Soemiran, argued that the government should study carefully the MPs proposals as the cigarette industry employed millions of people and contributed substantially to the Indonesian economy.

According to The Indonesia Times, the total production of cigarettes last year was 170.42 billion sticks compared to 162.43 billion in 1995.

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