Indonesia moves to curb smoking

Anti-smoking activists in Indonesia have welcomed a new law requiring health warnings on cigarettes. “It’s long overdue, but it’s progress,” Hakim Sorimuda Pohan, a member of the National Commission on Tobacco Control, told IRIN on 10 January.

Yesterday’s new law comes more than three years after parliament passed a bill listing tobacco as an addictive substance. Tobacco farmers and cigarette companies have long opposed such a move, saying it threatened the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people who work in the industry.

According to the Healthy Ministry, Indonesia, with a population of 240 million, ranks third in the world in terms of the number of smokers. About 65 percent of Indonesian males and 35 percent of females aged 15 or older smoked in 2010, the ministry reported.

Non-communicable diseases - including smoking - account for 64 percent of all deaths in Indonesia, says the World Health Organization, up more than 50 percent on 1995. Companies have 18 months to comply with the new law.