Indonesia's parliament has proposed a draft law that could lead to a sharp increase in tobacco output in a country that is already a top producer with one of the heaviest rates of smoking in the world. (JG Photo/Rezza Estily)

Health Ministry Launches New Anti-Smoking Campaign


MAY 27, 2016

Jakarta. The Ministry of Health has launched a new anti-smoking campaign dubbed Suara Hati Anak, or Voice of Children's Hearts, on Friday (27/05).

Health Minister Nila Moeloek said the ministry adopted a new approach in its anti-smoking campaign by highlighting the harmful impact tobacco has on society and the economy.

A newly launched 30-second television advertisement shows a desperate teenager dropping out a school because her father suffers from lung cancer due to smoking. The TV ad will be showed on six television networks nationally until June 10.

"During the previous three years, the health ministry used the victims' point of view [referring to patients suffering from the negative effects of smoking] in ads, but now we switched to other point of view: the socio-economic impact of smoking on Indonesian families," Nila said during a press conference in Jakarta.

Besides the TV ad, Nila urged the public and civil society groups to support the anti-smoking campaign, with the hashtag #SuaraTanpaRokok, to counter "huge advertising spending by cigarette companies on many media and platforms."

"Smoking creates broader problems in our society, such as teenagers dropping out of school and malnutrition due to parents spending too much money on cigarettes. [Reducing tobacco use] is not the task of the health ministry alone, but of other ministries as well," Nila said.

Cigarettes present a double-edged sword for the Indonesian government, which rakes in Rp 139.5 trillion ($10.4 billion) in excise from it annually, while at the same time causing the premature death of 217,400 people every year, according to a Tobacco Atlas survey.

A recent survey by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) showed that besides rice, Indonesian families spend more on cigarettes than on foodstuffs such as vegetables, meat and milk.

The World Economic Forum predicts that smoking will cost Indonesia approximately $4.5 trillion in health expenditure between 2012 and 2030.