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Indonesia: New Tobacco Control Law

(Jan. 16, 2013) On December 24, 2012, Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed the Tobacco Control Regulation. Within the next 18 months, cigarette producers and importers will have to comply with its provisions, which include stricter rules on distribution and marketing of cigarettes. (Arientha Primanitha, Tobacco Bill Requires Graphic Warnings to Be Displayed on Cigarette Packaging in Indonesia, JAKARTA GLOBE (Jan. 9, 2013); Peraturan Pemerintah Republik Indonesia Nomor 109 Tahun 2012 Tentang Pengamanan Bahan Yang Mengandung Zat Adiktif Berupa Produk Tembakau Bagi Kesehatan [Regulation of the Republic of Indonesia Number 109, Year 2012, Concerning Safeguards Against Addictive Substances in the Form of Tobacco Products], Ministry of Health website (last visited Jan. 14, 2013).)

In terms of the packaging of cigarettes, the regulation prescribes that a warning label and image be placed on the top portion of the front and back of boxes; the message must be printed clearly and start with the word “Warning” in white on a black background. (Id.) Cigarette producers may not use the words “light, ultra light, mild, extra mild, low tar, slim, special, full flavor, premium” or any other indication of quality, image, or “personality.” Furthermore, the new regulation suggests that the sides of cigarette packages state that there is no safe dose of the product. (Id.)

While tobacco farmers were concerned about the impact of the regulation on their sales (Primanitha, supra), the country’s Minister of Health, Nafsiah Mboi, recently said that the regulation was not “fierce enough” and that it would be “a huge sin” for cigarette advertisement to remain at its current level or increase. (Dessy Sagita & Markus Junianto Shihaloho, Health Minister Says Tobacco Rules Not Enough, JAKARTA GLOBE (Jan. 14, 2013).) One response of the government to the objections of tobacco producers is to state that the rules will not apply to smaller-scale businesses producing fewer than 24 million cigarettes per year. A second is to mandate that local governments work to diversify crops. (Primanitha, supra.)

Article 27 of the regulation pertains to cigarette advertising, which “should not trigger or advise people to smoke.” (Id.) However, the regulation does permit tobacco advertisers to sponsor sports events and to set up large billboards of up to 72 square meters in size, two of the provisions criticized by Mboi. Other points that have been criticized by commentators include the delay of the implementation of the regulation for 18 months and the lack of a ban on sales of individual cigarettes. (Sagita & Sihaloho, supra.)

According to the Chairman of the Tobacco Farmers Alliance, Nurtantio Wisnu Brata, that group and others representing the tobacco industry plan to challenge the regulation at the Supreme Court. They will argue that the new regulation represents unfair treatment of tobacco farmers. (Id.)

Smoking is widespread in Indonesia. According to a September 2012 survey, about 67% of male Indonesians over the age of 15 smoke, and 80% of the people are exposed to tobacco smoke in their homes. (Margie Mason, Indonesia Smoking: Two-Thirds of Country’s Men Smoke, New Study Shows, THE HUFFINGTON POST (Sept. 11, 2012).)

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