The 12.5% increase in tobacco excise tax was recently announced by Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani, who stated that it will take effect from February 2021.
The availability of single cigarettes is partly due to the high smoking rates on site.
However, the Tobacco Control Support Center and Association of Indonesian Public Health Experts (TCSC-IAKMI) said that further action must be taken to end smoking in the country.
TCSC-IAKMI chairman Sumarjati Arjososaid said the tax must continue to increase and the sale of single cigarettes must be banned. “Smoking can only be reduced by increasing the excise tax on cigarettes to 25%, increasing the retail price by 57% and banning the sale of individual cigarettes,” she said.
Ede Surya Darmawan, chairwoman of the IAKMI, agreed. “This is mainly because individual cigarettes sell as cheaply as 14 cents each,” she said, pointing out that the availability of individual cigarettes is partly responsible for the high smoking rates locally.
She also indicated that more needs to be done to enforce existing regulations. “Indonesia’s law says that cigarettes can only be sold and consumed by adults aged 18 and over, but there are no penalties for retailers who sell them to teenagers.”
The importance of helping to reduce tobacco damage
During the second Philippine online harm reduction forum recently hosted by the Philippine Harm Reduction Alliance, Indonesian professor and medical expert Tikki Pangestu reiterated the importance of recognizing the benefits of endorsing safe alternatives for harm reduction. Among other things, he said 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 flammable cigarette packs should not match those on packs 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 flammable cigarettes, “said Pangestu, visiting professor at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore and former research director for policy and cooperation for the World Health Organization .
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