YAKARTA – A district in the Indonesian capital has been officially declared a smoke-free area while students provide further protests against what they consider a greater effort by cigarette companies to target young people.
Indonesia has one of the highest rates of smoking and is the fourth largest producer of cigarettes, mainly spicy straw and tobacco variety, but Parliament has proposed legislation to further stimulate tobacco production.
Some groups now pushing the tobacco industry in the country of 250 million people smoke in nearly two thirds of men and a pack of cigarettes can cost less than $ 2.
In East Jakarta, a row of at least a dozen homes in the Tanggul Penas area has been painted with bright colors in March, with a blue banner hanging near the entrance stating that it was a smoking free zone.
Residents were encouraged to stop or avoid smoking “making this area not only beautiful, but also healthy,” said Nobby Vela Andi Supu, a 22-year-old student who coordinates the program with a civic group.
More than 200 people, mostly students, protested last month to oppose a tobacco industry’s next industrial exhibition in Jakarta and planned another demonstration next week, said Manik Marganamahendra, one of the protest organizers.
Cigarette companies target young Indonesians with new products such as fruity cigarettes, and attractive packaging and advertisements, Marganamahendra said 20 years.
“We really want the cigarette industry to disappear completely, but it can not happen overnight,” he told Reuters. “We would like to eliminate Indonesia’s dependence on cigarettes.”
Despite health problems, the tobacco industry in Indonesia is often championed by politicians and others as a major source of income for farmers and government revenues.
Indonesia produced 269.2 billion cigarettes in 2015, according to research firm Euromonitor International. The market was valued at 17.3 billion and grew rapidly.
Large tobacco companies operating in the field include PT Mandala Hanjaya Sampoerna Tbk, which is controlled by the US. Giant by Philip Morris International Inc., Djarum Group and PT Gudang Garam Tbk.