The 12.5% increase in tobacco excise tax was recently announced by Indonesia’s finance minister Sri Mulyani, who said that it will be effective as of February 2021.
The availability of single cigarettes is partly to blame for the local high smoking rates.
However, the Tobacco Control Support Center and the Association of Indonesian Public Health Experts (TCSC-IAKMI) said that more measures need to be set in place in order to discourage smoking in the country.
TCSC-IAKMI chairperson, Sumarjati Arjososaid, said that the tax needs to be increased further and that single-cigarette sales must be banned. “Smoking can only be reduced by increasing cigarette excise tax up to 25%, raising the retail price by 57%, and banning the sales of single cigarettes,” she said.
Ede Surya Darmawan, the chairperson of IAKMI, concurred. “This is mostly because single cigarettes are sold as cheaply as 14 cents each,” she said, pointing out that the availability of single cigarettes is partly to blame for the local high smoking rates.
She also pointed out that more needs to be done to enforce existing regulations. “Indonesia’s laws state that cigarettes can only be sold to and consumed by adults aged 18 and above, but there are no penalties for retailers who sell them to youngsters.”
The importance of endorsing Tobacco Harm Reduction
Meanwhile, speaking during the second Philippine Harm Reduction Online Forum recently held by the Philippines Harm Reduction Alliance, Indonesian Professor and medical expert Tikki Pangestu reiterated the importance of recognising the benefit of endorsing safer alternatives to reduce harm. Amongst other things he said that health warnings for vaping products and other safer alternatives such as HTPs (heated tobacco products) should be different from warnings on cigarettes.
“Health warnings on combustible cigarette packs should not be the same as those on the packaging of e-cigarettes and HTPs (heated tobacco products). This is because e-cigarettes and HTPs have been shown to be 90- to 95-percent less harmful than combustible cigarettes,” said Pangestu, visiting professor at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore and former director for research policy and cooperation of the World Health Organization.
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