Nowadays, we can see many people smoking everywhere. We can see many people smoking in a wide space of public places like roads and parks, and it is not rare to see them in a tiny room of public transportations like mini bus. Smoking is an activity which has become a daily needs and necessity for smokers and it has become difficult to control. The danger of smoking is not only affects the smokers, but it also affects non-smokers. Health issue for both smokers and non-smokers leads the government to take an action by making a policy regarding the activity of smoking through banning. Smoking bans are varies from criminal laws to health regulations which prohibit tobacco smoking in workplaces and other public spaces. Since June 2014, Indonesia’s government ordered the cigarettes makers to start putting graphic warnings on cigarette’s packaging (Karmini : 2014). This step was considered to be the boldest step to reduce smoking in Indonesia. Yet, the great number of smokers in Indonesia proved that this policy is not effective. Therefore, because banning smoking through incompatible icon is not effective, Indonesia should raise tobacco taxes in order to reduce smoking.
The government argues that by giving graphic warnings on cigarettes packaging, it will remind the danger of smoking explicitly to the smokers. But is the idea effective? According to Global Adults Tobacco Survey (WHO, 2011), 36,1% of Indonesia’s citizens are active smokers . It makes Indonesia become a country with the biggest number of smokers in South-East Asia. The idea to stop people smoking by plastering a series of nasty-looking pictures of diseased lungs and rotten teeth, alongside warnings in words about lung cancer and heart disease is not effective. Indonesia National Agency of Drug and Food Control states that only 409 of 3.300 cigarette brands in Indonesia obey the policy to use incompatible icon in their products (Karmini : 2014). Some products which do not use the icon can still be found in market. Therefore, some smokers out there can buy cigarettes without getting any explicit warning from the brand’s package. Thus, it will not reduce the number of smokers. Moreover, smokers do not pay attention to the pictures because in their mind they only want to consume the cigarettes to satisfy their addiction. Those pictures will merely make people think that the picture is disgusting. People forget the nicotine is addictive and that people simply find it hard to quit, no matter how much they want to.
Instead of plastering the horrible picture on the package, it’s better if the government raises the tobacco taxes. The single most effective way to reduce smoking is to dramatically increase the price of cigarettes through raising the tax of tobacco, in which it could help tobacco control in the country. World Bank recommends the raise of the tobacco taxes from two third to four fifth of cigarettes price in the market (Ratanachena, 2012). In line with World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO, 2010) even states that tobacco taxes must be around 70% of its common price in the market. One of the reason why Indonesia has great number of smokers is because the price of cigarettes in Indonesia is very cheap. WHO Report on The Global Tobacco Epidemic (2013) states that in many countries in Asia, cigarettes are sold with 1 dollar price per package. Without the expensive price of cigarettes, it’s like giving an easy access to smokers to satisfy their needs. WHO (2011) highlighted that 67% of men in Indonesia are active smokers, this percentage includes the underage citizens aged 15 years or more. Just imagine, any high school students can buy the cigarettes if the price is only 1 dollar. By raising the tax of tobacco, it will raise the price of cigarettes. As a result it will limit the access of smokers to cigarettes and finally, reduce the number of smokers.
Some people may argue that raising tobacco taxes will lead to the downfall of cigarettes factory in Indonesia and it will affects Indonesia’s economy condition as well. As we know that Indonesia is one of the largest countries which produces cigarettes. Indonesia is the sixth largest country which produces cigarettes which at least contributes 2,67% tobacco leaf of the global tobacco production in the world (Fawwaz : 2013). However, smoking actually also has disadvantages to the economy of the country, especially in terms of the economy of citizen. Just imagine if there’s a family which one of its member is a smoker. He will use some amount of his income to buy cigarettes. He will spend his money to buy more and more cigarettes in order to satisfy his addiction. The income that should be able to be used for education or health is reduced because it is wasted for cigarettes. Thus, it affects the stability of household’s economy. Analyses of the National Socio economic Survey (Barber : 2008) state that in average, 11,5% of household total income is used to buy cigarettes. Just how many families are there in Indonesia which the member is a smoker? Therefore, raising tobacco taxes is more appropriate to do in order to avoid the downfall of citizen economy.
As we can see, smoking is a global epidemic which becomes a concern for both the government and citizen. An effective regulation and policy are very needed in order to reduce smoking. The government should take bolder step than using nasty-looking pictures if they are serious to decrease the number of smokers. Rising tobacco taxes is the most effective way to reduce smoking because it has high impact in regards of limitation access of smokers and it helps to avoid the downfall of citizen economy. Moreover, this step is also recommended by World Bank and WHO. It’s time to stop smoking!
Barber, Sarah, Abdillah Ahsan, Sri Moertiningsih Adioetomo, Dianhadi Setyonaluri. 2008. Tobacco Economics in Indonesia. (Online),(http://global.tobaccofreekids.org/files)
Bettcher, D. 2010. WHO Technical Manual on Tobacco Tax Administration.(Online), (http://www.whqlibdoc.who.int/publications)
Fawwaz, A. 2013. 6 Negara Produsen Tembakau Terbesar Dunia. (Online), (http://komunitaskretek.or.id/ragam)
Karmini, N. 2014. Big Tobacco Ignores Indonesia Health Warning Law. (Online),(http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires)