Four months before the planned implementation in Indonesia of a regulation requiring pictorial warnings on cigarette packs, efforts to comply with the rules seem to be at a standstill, according to a story in The Jakarta Post quoting a health expert.
Widyastuti Soerojo, of the University of Indonesia’s School of Public Health, said the slow progress proved the government had a lack of commitment to solving the country’s tobacco problem.
“The deadline is approaching and yet there are no pictorial health warnings,” she said. “There is no strong commitment from the government to protect its citizens.”
Widyastuti said the government might have bowed to demands from the tobacco industry, but she nevertheless called on cigarette manufacturers to make a start on the new packaging; not only to meet the deadline but also to support the campaign on the dangers of smoking.
“We are hoping the tobacco industry understands that it has a moral obligation to provide customers information on products that they consume,” she said.
The new regulations require cigarette manufacturers to include warnings taking up at least 40 percent of the front and back of packs and showing images of diseased lungs, mouths, throats or larynxes.
The deputy health minister, Ali Ghufron Mukti, said the government continued to push and promote the regulation to cigarette manufacturers.
Ghufron said that the ministry was now working with the Food and Drugs Monitoring Agency to step up the campaign to boost compliance among cigarette makers.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Cigarette Manufacturers Association secretary-general, Hasan Aoni, said cigarette manufacturers would comply with the new regulation, though he acknowledged that it would be difficult for them to meet the June deadline because of a lack of clear guidelines.
There was conflicting information, he said, from relevant agencies, including the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission, which had stated recently that images of cancerous mouths or lungs might be too grotesque for some. (While the new regulations include also restrictions on advertising, they allow television advertisements between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m.)
“We want clarification from the government so we can implement the regulation,” said Hasan. “They have to understand it is not easy to prepare the new packaging.”