Indonesian Farmers Had a Say in Tobacco Control Bill, Health Minister Says
Markus Junianto Sihaloho
A cabinet minister said on Monday that the government had factored in the views of all stakeholders, especially tobacco farmers, in its proposed tobacco impact control bill.
Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi said the bill, known as the RPP, was drafted in consultation with the Coordinating Ministry for People’s Welfare and was awaiting approval by the president before being presented to the legislature.
“We always listen to input from the people,” Nafsiah said in Jakarta. She added that farmers misunderstood the RPP if they thought it banned them from growing tobacco.
She said the bill was intended to protect pregnant women and stop children from smoking.
“The younger a person starts smoking,” the minister said, “the stronger the addiction is and the more difficult it is for them to stop.”
Nafsiah said the bill also intended to protect tobacco farmers from intermediaries because it encouraged farmers to replace their tobacco plants with other, more profitable, crops.
“Indonesia has to be smart and not let foreign cigarette producers reap big profits from our people by hurting them,” she said.
Small and medium cigarette producers and tobacco farmers have accused the government of trying to cut into their incomes, claiming the RPP was based on the foreign-sponsored Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, to which Indonesia is not a signatory.