Indonesia criticized over pack challenge

| September 25, 2013

Tobacco control activists have criticized the Indonesian government for challenging Australia’s decision to impose standardized cigarette packaging, according to a story in The Jakarta Globe.

It was reported here yesterday that Indonesia had made a formal request to the World Trade Organization for consultations on Australia’s regulations, which could be the first step toward a trade dispute. It is the fifth country—behind Ukraine, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Cuba—to challenge Australia at the WTO.

Tara Singh Bam, the technical advisor at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, was quoted as describing the government’s decision as “unfortunate.”

Indonesia was notorious as being the only country in the Asia Pacific that had not signed the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), he said, and this decision would “only make things worse.”

Meanwhile, Kartono Muhammad, an anti-tobacco campaigner, said the government’s challenge through the WTO was a questionable move, both from a health and financial perspective.

“It’s funny: Why bother challenging Australia’s decision to protect its people when the policy itself does not affect us directly?” he said.

“Since 2011, Indonesian cigarettes are practically no longer sold in Australia, so economically, Australia’s policy on the plain packaging will not affect us.”

Category: Breaking News

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