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Talking at cross purposes on tobacco bill

| December 16, 2013

The House of Representative’s legislative body (Baleg) in Indonesia has rejected the Health Ministry’s demand that it halt deliberations on a tobacco bill, according to a story in The Jakarta Post.

But it is not clear whether the bill exists, at least not in the form that the ministry has seen.

During a hearing in the House last week, Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi urged the Baleg to reject the bill.

Having read the draft legislation, she said, it was clear that the bill was written to protect the tobacco industry.

“The bill should be scrapped as it contradicts the basic human right of having the highest standard of healthy living,” Nafsiah said.

“If the bill was indeed proposed to protect farmers from imports, then why does it only deal with tobacco?”

But one Baleg member said the minister was jumping the gun.

“The draft that was received by the Health Ministry was not created by the House’s legislative body,” he said.

“Frankly, we haven’t even decided on the name of the bill, let alone written a draft. We want to gather as much as information from government officials as well as the public before drafting the bill.”

In December last year, Baleg announced that a tobacco bill aimed at improving the welfare of tobacco farmers would be one of 12 new pieces of legislation to be deliberated in the 2013 national legislative program.

Some lawmakers, health experts and activists have said that the hurried inclusion of the bill on the House’s backlogged agenda might have been a result of lobbying from major cigarette companies.

Category: Breaking News

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