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‘Komunitas Kretek’ rejects tobacco control ratification

“Komunitas Kretek” or the Clove Cigarette Community has rejected any call for ratifying the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), saying that Indonesia would lose its own cultural heritage if the government ratifies it.

“Indonesia has its tobacco product called kretek, which has its own uniqueness with a blend of tobacco and clove. Ratifying the convention means that the government would deny its own cultural heritage,” Alfa Gumilang, the general secretary of Komunitas Kretek said on Thursday.

Earlier on Thursday, the National Coalition of Civil Society for Tobacco Control called on President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to ratify the convention as a strategic step and argued that it was in the best interest of the nation. “WHO FCTC ratification would be of benefit to Indonesia’s future,” said Ifdhal Kasim, a coordinator of the coalition.

The convention contains several provisions regarding smoke-free areas, packaging and labeling, pricing and taxing, and prohibition of advertising and promotions, including through sponsorship.

Alfa warned that the WHO FCTC also regulated the standardization of all tobacco products, including its ingredients and level of tar and nicotine.

“One of the articles in the convention urges the government to implement tobacco diversification plans, which could damage the economic well-being of tobacco farmers across the country,” he said.

“Modifying agricultural traditions is also not easy, as it has existed for hundreds of years. Besides, it would affect farmers’ market access,” Alfa said. (vps/bbn)

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