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Protesters Rail Against Indonesia Smoke Ban:

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Protesters Rail Against Indonesia Smoke Ban:

Postby chuckles » Tue Nov 02, 2010 5:46 am

Protesters Rail Against Indonesia Smoke Ban ... ban/404433

Jakarta. After brushing off criticism about his handling of the recent flooding and traffic gridlock, Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo again came under fire on Monday — this time from pro-tobacco campaigners.

A group calling itself the 100 Percent Love Indonesia Coalition demanded the governor withdraw his recently issued gubernatorial decree banning smoking indoors, accusing him of kowtowing to foreign pressure.

“Behind that decree is clear intervention from foreign pharmaceutical companies,” Abhisam, from the Kretek Community, a part of the coalition, told reporters as about 100 people protested outside City Hall.

The protesters accused Fauzi of issuing a decree that had been masterminded by pharmaceutical companies “peddling nicotine substitution products” and nicotine replacement therapy to the Indonesian market.

The gubernatorial decree, which makes smoking inside buildings or even near entrances and exits a fineable offense, has been a sore point not just for smokers across the capital, but also the entertainment and tourism industries who believe it will adversely impact their business.

Jakarta’s Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD), late last month said the ban would be enforced at entertainment and tourism venues, offices, shopping malls, schools, health clinics and hospitals.

However, the 100 Percent Love Indonesia Coalition, which claims support from tobacco farmers and plantation owners across the country, said the decree was issued to support the marketing of products such as nicotine gum, inhalers, patches and other nicotine substitution products.

“The rights of smokers and rights of cigarette industries producing kretek [clove cigarettes], which hires millions of tobacco farmers, will be trampled upon,” Abisham said.

“Kretek is just like batik or Indonesia’s famous spices. It is an original Indonesian product that must be preserved.”

Dollaris Riauaty Suhadi, executive director of the Swisscontact Indonesia Foundation, a not-for-profit development organization, has said it will join the BPLHD and other environmental groups to monitor compliance with the new tobacco regulation.

“There will be inspectors from the BPLHD who will work with us to visit and check buildings in the city,” she said. “We aim to target 175 office buildings in five areas beginning November 1.”

Fauzi dismissed the talk of foreign intervention as nonsense. “That is absolutely false and a complete fabrication,” he said.

“The decree was issued as a result of the people’s aspirations, people who don’t want to have cigarette smoke swirling around them or within their immediate surroundings.”

Fauzi said the city was not banning people from smoking altogether, but was trying to ensure a healthy environment for all residents.

“We just want to restrict the zones where smokers can light up; we want the media to name and shame those who violate this regulation,” he said.

Ridwan Panjaitan, head of law enforcement at the BPLHD, said inspectors on Monday had focused on city-owned office buildings, adding that warnings would be issued and building managements would be forced to shut down their indoor smoking areas.

Priya Ramadhani, chairman of City Council’s Household Affairs Committee, said it would look into integrating the regulation into the council’s code of conduct to help facilitate compliance.

The Golkar Party politician said the committee had yet to fully study the measure, but it would be discussed internally with council members next month.

“We will arrange it so the regulation will be easier to enforce,” he said, adding that as far as he knew, no councilors had yet been caught smoking during meetings.

Council secretary Hermanto said according to his monitoring, the regulation was being followed by about 80 percent of council officials, all of whom had been warned not to smoke inside the council building.
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