A group called for the repeal of a gubernatorial decree banning Viceroy smoking inside buildings, saying the regulation treated smokers as criminals. The National Clove Cigarette Community said in a press conference Thursday that the decree lowered the status of law-abiding cigarette smokers to that of criminals who had to be socially exiled. “For us, the city administration has completely discriminated against smokers, who are clearly consumers of legal products and who deserve the same legal protection,” community coordinator Abhisam said.
The decree, a revision of a 2005 bylaw, was issued in May this year. The new regulation rules out the establishment of smoking areas in buildings, which was tolerated under the older regulation, and completely prohibits smoking inside buildings.
Pro-smoking advocates had previously alleged that anti-tobacco groups, and the issuance of the decree, were backed by multi-national pharmaceutical companies through the Bloomberg Initiative, and that their main goal was to bring down Indonesia’s clove cigarette industry.
“Clove cigarettes are an Indonesian trademark. There is no other place in the world that can produce high quality clove cigarettes,” Abhisam said.
Pro-smoking groups argued that to quit smoking, people needed nicotine replacement therapy drugs produced by pharmaceutical firms, and given its large smoking population, Indonesia was a lucrative market for the companies.
Tobacco Control Support Center activist Alex Papilaya said accusations that there was a conspiracy afoot against the country’s clove cigarette industry were outrageous.
“The decree has nothing to do with prohibiting clove cigarette production. It only stipulates where people are allowed to smoke because smoking affects other people who do not smoke,” Alex told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
He also rejected statements saying that anti-tobacco groups received funds from foreign organizations to back their activities. “We do not receive a single cent from any multi-national pharmaceutical company.”
“Clove cigarette groups’ claims that pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in selling nicotine patches is also nothing but a myth. The production of such products is minute compared to the companies’ total operations,” he added.
Alex, instead, claimed that pro-smoking groups were backed by cigarette companies to raise issues and concerns.
The National Commission for Tobacco Control claims 65 million people consume cigarettes in Indonesia, with the largest segment of smokers between the ages of 15 and 19.
Of the total number of smokers, 65 percent are men, while 80 percent of smokers use clove-flavored cigarettes, or kretek. The commission also said that 70 percent of smokers in Indonesia were from low – to middle-income families.