Tobacco Draft Bill Allegedly Favors Business Owners

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Many views that the content of the Tobacco Bill Draft favors cigarette companies instead of farmers or public. Prijo Sidipratomo, chairman of the National Commission for Tobacco Control pointed out that one of the articles relaxes cigarette companies’ obligation to attach health warning in big size on cigarette packages. “This is a step backward, as if the Tobacco Draft Bill aims at increasing the number of smokers,” Prijo told Tempo yesterday, January 22.

    Prijo viewed that the Tobacco Draft Bill contravenes Law No. 36/2009 on Health. “Whose agenda this draft bill is?”

    In mid-December 2016, the House of Representatives held a plenary session and decided to include the Tobacco Draft Bill in the 2017 National Legislation Program as a House-initiated draft bill. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has 60 days to decide whether to reject or to approve the deliberation of the draft bill. 

    In addition to weakening efforts to control cigarette consumption, Prijo viewed that many articles in the draft Tobacco Draft Bill overlap with other regulations. For instance, Articles 5-7 regulate the master plan for the tobacco industry. “These regulations are against President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo’s nine priority programs (Nawacita) aiming to reduce tobacco products,” he said.

    Another article is related to the exercise of rights to grow tobacco, which is focused on the size of the tobacco plantation land for agriculture zones. According to Prijo, the protection and empowerment of farmers are already governed comprehensively by Law No. 19/2013 on the farmer's protection and empowerment. The rights to conduct tobacco business are already governed by Law No. 39/2014 on Plantations and Law No. 3/2014 on Industries.

    Julius Ibrani, legal division coordinator at the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) alleged that the Tobacco Draft Bill indeed is backed by cigarette manufacturers. “Many indications confirm the allegation,” he told Tempo. The YLBHI, he added, has gained information on cigarette manufacturer-sponsored work visits conducted by House of Representatives members to several provinces.

    Firman Soebagyo, chief of the tobacco draft bill working committee, said that the draft bill deliberation had been conducted in accordance with the procedures. He claimed that his team had received inputs from all individuals, including from those who reject the Tobacco Draft Bill.

    Firman dismissed an allegation that the draft bill favors business owners and asserted that the draft bill was for the sake of farmers’ interests. For instance, he explained, the cigarette excise tariff will be increased. “I stand for the people and farmers,” he claimed.

    State Secretary Pratikno said that he has not received information on President’s letter in relation to the Tobacco Draft Bill. “As far as I know, there is no such a plan yet. I’ll check,” he said.