A self-acclaimed smoke-free zone which is a nearby place to the Indonesian capital plans further protest to curb the growing effort to aim at the youths by the cigarette companies.
Indonesia records one of the highest smoking rates and proves to be the fourth largest producers of cigarette in the world especially the tobacco and kretek with a strong odour. On the face of it, the parliament has a proposal to increase the output of tobacco.
Contrary to this idea, a few groups are kicking against the idea of Big Tobacco in a country where about two-thirds of the men among the 250 million present people do smoke, and a pack of cigarette goes less than $2.
About a dozen houses in eastern Jakarta were designed in new and bright paint colours in March announcing it to be a smoke-free zone with a blue flag hoisted near the entrance. A 22- year old student, Nobby Sail Andi Supu who advocates no smoking organised a program in collaboration with a civic group where he made it clear and encouraged the residents to make the vicinity not just beautiful but also healthy.
One of the protest organisers, Manik Marganamahendra disclosed that over 200 people who are mainly students embarked on a protest last month against an upcoming exhibition of cigarette producing machines in Jakarta. These students are not relenting as they are planning to engage in another protest next week.
Manik further stated that the Cigarette Company is honing their focus on the youth to inculcate the smoking habits into them with enticing packaging and publicity of products like the fruit-flavored cigarette. The aim is to eradicate the cigarette industry, although it can’t be achieved suddenly, they can make Indonesians take of their reliance on Cigarette.
Politicians and other people of high calibre support and defend the tobacco industry in Indonesia despite the health concerns because it is a vital source of revenue to the government and income to the farmers.
Statistics by a research firm Euromonitor International has it that Indonesia manufactured about 269.2 billion cigarettes in the year 2015, and the market had a value of 231.3 trillion rupiah which is equivalent to $17.3 billion. Top cigarette companies that are operating in Indonesia include Djarum, PT Gudang Garam Tbk and PT Hanjaya Mandala Sampoerna Tbk controlled by the U.S top Philip Morris.
The smoke-free campaign is no doubt having an impact as can be seen in the statement by an 18-year old high school student Kholid Wahyudi who said that the smoke-free campaign caused him to cut back on smoking. Wahyudi further said that he feels embarrassed when he’s the only person smoking among his friends. As such, he has cut down on smoking several packs to about two to three sticks daily.
Emphasising the challenge of the anti-smoking campaign to other parts of Indonesia, some construction workers close to Penas Tanggul were noticed puffing away.