Markus Junianto Sihaloho
An Indonesian lawmaker urged the government on Thursday to ratify a World Health Organization treaty that aims to curb worldwide tobacco use.
“It is ironic that Indonesia [worked on] drafting the convention but has not signed or ratified it,” Nova Riyanti Yusuf, deputy chairwoman of House Commission IX, which oversees health, said on Thursday.
Some 174 nations have signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control since it was issued in 2004, including top tobacco leaf producers China, India, Brazil and Turkey, Nova said.
Indonesia would need to reduce cigarette advertising, increase tobacco taxes, use photographic health warnings on cigarette packages and curb tobacco sales and underage smoking. The government has already implemented some points of the convention, but has not signed on as a party to the convention, Nova said.
The lawmaker expects Indonesia to sign the treaty in the near future.
Cigarette sales are a touchy issue in Indonesia. While the Health Affairs Ministry has tried to curb smoking rates, many Indonesians depend on the tobacco industry for their livelihoods, working as farmers or in cigarette factories where workers still hand-roll many kretek cigarettes. According to WHO data, more than 237,000 people work in Indonesia’s tobacco industry, producing some 190 billion cigarettes.
Indonesia is world’s seventh largest tobacco leaf producer, harvesting 147,000 metric tons of tobacco in 2001, according to World Health Organization numbers.
Nova said that signing the treaty wouldn’t hurt Indonesia’s tobacco industry.
“Indonesia only ranked seventh out of the world’s largest tobacco producers,” she said. “The three largest tobacco producers, China, India and Brazil, have already signed and ratified the convention.”
Tobacco-related illnesses have risen to become the second cause of death globally, after hypertension, according to WHO figures. One out of every 10 adults worldwide die of tobacco-related illnesses.
Thursday is the WHO’s “World No Tobacco Day.”