Specialists reward the tobacco tax hike in Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia

Indonesia's decision to increase excise duties on tobacco products is a welcome move, according to a public health group.

However, the Tobacco Control Support Center and Association of Indonesian Public Health Experts (TCSC-IAKMI) said there is still room for further action to be taken to end smoking in the country.

The statement came on Friday, a day after Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani announced a 12.5% ​​increase in tobacco excise tax that will come into effect from February 2021.

She said the tobacco excise tax income target for 2021 has been set at 173.78 trillion rupiah ($ 12.3 billion).

Sumarjati Arjoso, chairman of TCSC-IAKMI, said the tax hike was not enough to reduce smoking prevalence in the country, especially among children and women.

"Smoking can only be reduced by increasing the excise tax on cigarettes to 25%, increasing the retail price by 57% and banning the sale of individual cigarettes," she said.

She also regretted the abolition of the government's excise simplification policy.

According to Arjoso, simplifying the structure of tobacco excise taxes would have been the ideal tool to increase national income and curb cigarette consumption.

Ede Surya Darmawan, Chairwoman of IAKMI, stressed that the government must give priority to public health in order to achieve the goals set in the National Medium-Term Development Plan 2020-24.

According to the World Health Organization, smoking prevalence in Indonesia is 29%, lower than in China and India.

A 2018 basic health survey found that 33.8% of people aged 15 and over were smokers, the highest rate in the world.

The smoking prevalence in men was 62.9% and in women 4.8%.

The number of smokers between the ages of 10 and 18 increased from 7.2% in 2013 to 9.1% in 2018.

"This is mainly due to the fact that individual cigarettes are sold as cheaply as 14 cents each," said Darmawan.

"Under Indonesian law, cigarettes can only be sold and consumed by adults aged 18 and over. However, there are no penalties for retailers who sell them to teenagers."

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