Markus Junianto Sihaloho
For days now, thousands of tobacco farmers have held protests in Jakarta over the government’s plan to issue a regulation later this month on tobacco control measures.
While the farmers have argued that the regulation will hurt their livelihoods, health advocates have called for the draft to be issued as soon as possible because of the importance of tackling smoking and its attendant health impacts.
As the various stakeholders debate the regulation, comprised of 65 articles in eight chapters, we take a glance at the contents.
The first chapter contains general definitions and a description of the aims of the regulation, which it says is meant to mitigate the impact of tobacco on the health of individuals, families, society and the environment.
The second chapter says the regulation concerns cigarette products made from both natural and synthetic tobacco.
That is followed by a chapter detailing the government’s responsibilities at the central and regional levels regarding the use of tobacco and its threat to human health.
According to this, the government would arrange for the supervision of the use of addictive substances in the form of tobacco products. It would encourage research and development in the industry to make the substances safe, and it would promote the diversification of tobacco products.
Chapter four, the longest chapter, concerns how efforts to supervise tobacco products would be implemented. It identifies key issues regarding the production and import of tobacco products, their distribution, protections for children and pregnant women, and no-smoking zones.
It also requires cigarette producers to conduct nicotine and tar content tests on each type of cigarette they produce.
An exemption is made for modes of tobacco consumption used in traditional societies, including klobot , in which the tobacco is wrapped in corn leaves; klembak menyan , in which the tobacco is infused with incense; and sliced tobacco.
Producers are also prohibited from using additives that have not been scientifically proven to have no adverse health impact.
Article 14 of the chapter also requires importers and producers of cigarettes to include health warnings in the form of pictures and text on cigarette packs.
Article 22 requires packs to contain information on the nicotine and tar content, along with a warning that selling or giving cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18 or to pregnant women is prohibited.
The packs must also carry production codes and dates along with the name and address of producers.
Article 25 prohibits the sale of tobacco products through automated vending machines to minors and pregnant women.
Articles 26 to 31 cover restrictions on tobacco advertising in print, broadcast, online and outdoor media such as billboards.
Under the restrictions, audio ads such as radio commercials for cigarettes must devote 10 percent of their time to verbal warnings.
Audio-visual ads such as television commercials must devote 10 percent of their time to written warnings and, where applicable, a pictorial warning. Still-image ads must devote 10 percent of their area for a warning.
Article 28 also stipulates specific prohibitions for cigarette ads in print media. One of them is that these ads may never be published on the front or back cover of a print publication or near ads for food and drink products.
Restrictions on outdoor media advertising include a prohibition on tobacco ads being displayed in smoke-free zones or along main roads.
The regulation also prohibits the free distribution of cigarettes, as well as discount sales and presents in the form of cigarettes.
Events sponsored by tobacco companies are also barred from carrying the producers’ logo or the logs of cigarette brands.
Article 39 of the chapter prohibits the distribution or broadcast of pictures or photographs of people smoking, cigarettes, cigarette smoke, cigarette packs or anything related to tobacco products.
It also bans the broadcast of any information on tobacco products in print, broadcast and online media if it is linked to either a commercial activity or efforts to encourage people to smoke.
Article 46 prohibits adults from ordering or telling those under the age of 18 to sell, buy or consume tobacco products.
The chapter also prescribes arrangements on mandatory smoke-free zones in health facilities, educational premises, playgrounds, places of worship, public transportation, workplaces and other public places.
Public transportation hubs and workplaces are specifically obliged to provide designated places for smokers. They must be open areas with direct outdoor venting.
Chapter five of the regulation defines the public’s role in the tobacco control campaign and the supervision and reporting of violations.
The sixth chapter details how government officials will enforce smoke-free zones, stop first-time smokers and counsel existing smokers to help them quit.
It says these efforts must be conducted in cooperation with international organizations.
Chapter seven deals with the transition period for the tobacco industry to comply with the provisions in the regulation.
The final chapter defines when the provisions will go into effect.