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Men top smoking table

Government says tobacco industry has defeated it

A pack of cigarettes costs only US$1.30 A pack of cigarettes costs only US$1.30
  • Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • September 13, 2012
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Government officials are taking the blame for Indonesia having the world's highest rate of smokers among adult men.

According to a study announced Tuesday, 67 percent -- 57.6 million – of Indonesian men aged 15 and above smoke.

“We must be ashamed,” Health Minister Nafsiah Mboy said in a telephone interview. “The government has failed to protect people. We have been defeated by the tobacco industry.”

The tobacco industry’s aggressive advertising and the cheap price of cigarettes contributed to Indonesia’s high smoking rate, she said. The average price of a pack of cigarettes in Indonesia is about 12,000 rupiah (US$1.30).

Mboy promised to fight for approval of the tobacco impact control bill, drafted in 2010.

The bill to reduce the number of smokers would require cigarette packs to feature a graphic warning, limit tobacco advertising and regulate smoking in buildings.

“I hope the bill will be able to make people aware of the cigarette menace,” she said.

Acknowledging that some tobacco industries and farmers kept rejecting the bill’s approval, she said that people’s health “is the most important matter."

“Tobacco industries and farmers must understand that. They must also realize that cigarettes have killed many people in the world,” she said.

The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) for Indonesia showed a 13.1 percent increase (from 53.9 percent) in the proportion of male smokers since 1995 and an increase from 1.7 percent to 2.7 percent in female smokers.

GATS is a nationally representative household survey of non-institutionalized men and women aged 15 and above, designed to produce internationally comparable data on tobacco use and tobacco control measures. It was jointly conducted by the Central Statistics Agency and the Ministry of Health.

The high rate of male smokers in Indonesia is followed by India with 47.9 percent, the Philippines with 47.7 percent, Vietnam with 47.4 percent, Thailand with 45.6 percent and Poland with 33.5 percent.

A World Health Organization fact sheet issued in May found that tobacco kills nearly six million people each year, of whom more than five million are smokers and ex-smokers and more than 600,000 are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. Nearly 80 percent of the world’s one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.

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