Smokers may consider cigarettes to be man's best friend, while some consider them to be the signal for the Grim Reaper to get one's self, with its scythe getting closer and closer by each cigarette smoked. No matter which side parts of the society are on, it is apparent that the statistics surrounding cigarettes are not pretty; according to World Health Organization (WHO), smoking claims the lives of approximately 425,000 Indonesians annually, which is responsible more a quarter of all annual deaths. Hence, it is clear that smoking is not a healthy hobby in the slightest. The latest data from Basic Health Research recorded that a total of 58.8 million of the Indonesian population aged above 10 smoked in 2013.
Adults are not the sole smoking parties in the nation. Based on the data gathered by the National Commission for Children's Protection, nearly 2% of the children population in Indonesia start smoking at the age of four, and there have been stories about children smoking in Indonesia, from two to fourteen year olds. Clearly, the statistics are not pretty, and the nation could be burning away its future generations with the unhealthy addiction to cigarettes. However, with the recent talks about surging up the price of the cigarettes, could the nation finally be bold enough to counterattack the instrument of unproductivity and death?
Ranging from IDR 7.000 to IDR 15.000, the price for each pack of cigarettes in Indonesia is hugely accessible. With the cheapest one being cheaper than a plate of fried rice, cigarettes can even be purchased by those still attending their early education; that is one of the reasons on why the number of children getting caught smoking in the nation is increasing over the years. Hence, younger buds of the generation are able to purchase a pack per day, and adults can purchase even more. However, as of recently, there have been talks and discussions about increasing the price of cigarettes up to IDR Rp 50.000, more than triple of their standard amount.
The idea was suggested by the head of the Center for Health Economics and Policy Studies (CHEPS) of the University of Indonesia (UI), Hasbullah Thabrany. During the 3rd Indonesian Health Economics Association (inaHEA) held on July 28,2016, Thabrany stated that rising up the price of cigarettes could lower the prevalence of the product, especially among those with lower-than-average financial capabilities. Thabrany and his acquaintances had even conducted a survey which stated that the majority of the subjects would quit if the price of the cigarette packs cost IDR 50.000 each; the survey was conducted through a thousand subjects, and 72% out of the subjects named the same price, and 76% are agreed upon the increase.
There have been a number of attempts from the government to discourage smokers from falling deeper into their addiction and for cigarette companies to be warier; on July 2014, it is obligatory for all cigarette companies to place graphic warnings and images about the consequences of smoking,a nd there was the 8.7% tax rise for the products since January 2015. Still, cigarette consumptions are still dominant, and the nightmare is that children are doing it. Even so, Indonesia still shows some reluctance in directly combating the usage and the selling of cigarettes by not ratifying the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) from WHO.
The reasons on Indonesia's reluctance to do that is fairly understandable; there were about 6.1 million of its citizens working in the tobacco industry, signifying the importance of the industry for the nation's certain amount of sustainability. Moreover, the industry generated IDR 85 trillion from the taxes for the products alone. Cigarette companies are also sponsors of a number of the nation's activities, from scholarships, employments, to refugee shelters. Therefore, although the products drain lives, that is not the only thing the industry brings. The financial benefits and the sheer power from the cigarette industry result in Indonesia being unable to take an absolute, clear stance about its take on cigarettes. Hence, rather than banning them altogether, the nation employs the strategy to 'regulate' and 'control' the usage and production, which the new idea from Thabarany can perhaps achieve.
In the near future, Hasbullah Thabrany plans to discuss about the price rates with the newly appointed Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani. The increase for the prices as well as the natural imposition of higher tax-rates for the products, if implemented, can hopefully direct Indonesia to a better path and gain better control over the cigarettes industry. as beneficial and as powerful the industry is, Indonesia needs to take immediate and effective measures against the swirling smokes of doom that can be seen along certain parts of the streets, for the sake of the country itself. With the rumors around whispering that the policy may be implemented during September this year, or somewhere along that time, perhaps we can see some improvements over the cigarettes' massive influence.