The Indonesian Finance Ministry is being urged to earmark all tobacco tax revenue for the health budget because the health sector is said to be heavily burdened by tobacco-related medical issues, according to a story in The Jakarta Post.
Health Ministry secretary-general Untung Suseno Sutarjo was quoted as saying that such a policy would be ‘immensely beneficial for the promotion and development of health’.
“If possible, all tobacco taxation, including tax and excise, should be used only for health promotion because cigarettes make people sick,” Untung told The Jakarta Post.
“If we could receive all income from tobacco taxation; that would be enough to cover our annual health budget.”
The government has been struggling to make people aware of the risks associated with smoking. Graphic cigarette-pack warnings are now mandatory, but consumption has yet to decline and cigarettes remain Indonesia’s second-most consumed product after rice.
The Post said that the tobacco industry in Indonesia had succeeded in expanding its market by nearly nine percent a year, and that the country had become the world’s fourth-largest cigarette market in 2013.
Meanwhile, Amelia Anggraini, a member of the House Of Representatives’ Commission IX overseeing health, claimed that the proposal to earmark tobacco taxation to the health budget had been initiated by lawmakers.
“The majority of House Commission IX agreed,” she said. “The idea actually came from us, but we haven’t talked about it in detail because we’re currently in recess. After the recess ends, there will be further and more comprehensive discussion with the Health Ministry.”