Indonesia - NGO's (non-government organizations) Demand the Government Ratify WHO's FCTC..

November 14, 2008 - The Indonesia Civil Society for Tobacco Control has demanded the government ratify the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to protect Indonesian citizens, especially young people, from smoking-related health risks and death. The group, comprised of 132 politicians, activists and celebrities, accused the government of giving into the cigarette industry by continuing to delay the ratification.

The WHO FCTC, signed by 160 countries, addresses several points, such as promoting taxation as a way to reduce cigarette consumption, imposing restrictions on smoking in public places, enacting comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship within five years of ratification, putting larger health warnings on cigarette packs and intensifying the fight against tobacco smuggling.

Data presented by the group show Indonesia, the only country in Asia that has not ratified the treaty, is the world's third largest consumer of tobacco, with the number of teenagers who smoke increasing by 144 percent between 1998 and 2004 and the total number of smoking-related deaths reaching 400,000 a year.

Tulus Abadi of Indonesian Consumers Foundation previously cited the National Economy and Social Survey from 2003 to 2005. It showed poor families' biggest expenditure was on rice, absorbing 19.30 percent of their income. Surprisingly, the second biggest was on cigarettes, which used up a hefty 12.43 percent. "Through the ratification of the FCTC, cheap cigarettes, which can be bought retail, would be limited because the government would be obliged to levy a higher cigarette tax," lawyer an advocate specializing in defending poor citizens in Jakartahristina Widiantarti (an advocate specializing in defending poor citizens in Jakarta) said.

Reference: Government 'powerless' against tobacco giants Astrid Wijaya, National News - Jakarta Post, 11/13/2008 and Government vs. NGOs tobacco case delayed again, Agnes Winarti, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, 10/10/2008)

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