There is no disputing the facts. Tobacco products are addictive and harmful to one’s health. Countless tests and medical research have shown smoking causes a range of illnesses and is a major killer.
For far too long, Indonesia has bowed to the tobacco industry and taken lackluster measures to combat the pervasive impact of tobacco advertising. As a result, the country has one of the highest smoking rates in the world.
Authorities now have the tools and the mandate to move forcibly against the industry and ensure future generations do not fall under the deadly spell of tobacco. The Constitutional Court has rejected judicial reviews on three clauses in the new Health Law regarding the assertion that tobacco contains addictive substances, the carrying of pictorial warnings on packages of tobacco products and the prospect of jail time and fines for those who fail to put the warnings on the packages.
The first review, filed by Bambang Sukarno and farmers grouped under the Indonesian Tobacco Farmers’ Association (APTI), argued that singling out tobacco was discriminative because there were other things containing addictive substances. The two other reviews were filed by a number of health, child protection and anti-tobacco groups.
The verdicts leave no ground for challenging all related regulations, including banning smoking in buildings and tobacco advertising and sponsorship of major sports and entertainment events.
There are no more reasons to allow the industry to continue to influence our youth and lure them into smoking. The ruling paves for the way for Indonesia to join the ranks of nations that have successfully limited the industry’s ability and scope to market its products.
The new law already bans smoking in buildings and many public areas. Unfortunately, implementation has been less than stringent and many establishments still allow smoking on their premises. This must stop immediately, and a total ban of smoking in all enclosed areas should be enforced.
Tobacco advertising must be banned and cigarette companies compelled to carry larger health warnings on all cigarette packs. This is already in practice in countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. The Constitutional Court ruling is a victory for everyone who is concerned about the future of the nation.