Indonesia and the Ultimate Tobacco Ban Protest

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 7/15/2011 12:02:00 AM
Just look at the size of that sucker. Philip Morris, eat your heart out! I am genuinely of two minds over cigarette smoking bans being imposed throughout the world. The Emmanuel that wants to live a reasonably healthy lifestyle abhors the practice and the many diseases it gives rise to. But, the relatively live and let live me grants that persons have a genuine right to severely impair their health under certain conditions. Truth be told, I have no problems with requiring tobacco firms to place graphic warnings on the dangers of their products--see the recent US FDA graphics (and I do mean graphic). If adults still persist in smoking after seeing these warnings, well, that's their prerogative.

However, both tendencies clash when it comes to smoking in public places. Aside from the offputting aroma, we also have to deal with the reality of second-hand smoke which has been found to be exceedingly unhealthy as well. For example: how far should we go in dissuading smoking from, say, hangouts where people traditionally indulge in vices to (literally) let off some steam? Here in the UK, there is an ongoing debate as to whether thousands of pubs have found their business diminished since smoking bans were instituted at these places. There's even an online petition movement clamouring for a change.

These debates on smoking are now moving to the developing world as tobacco giants join local firms in trying to expand their business there. Call it regulatory arbitrage as laws become more onerous for selling tobacco in the industrialized world--for now. In Indonesia, tobacco farmers want to sabotage legislation that would (1) limit tobacco advertising, (2) place graphic warnings on tobacco products, and (3) ban smoking in public places. Sounds familiar, eh? However, I was particularly taken by the antics of tobacco farmers protesting the bill such as with the "megarette" above. My blogging affiliates at Global Post have more fun if ludicrously unhealthy images. What follows though is a summary of the legislation which has incited the most colourful libertarian--ish protests IMHO from Berita Jakarta:
Thousands of tobacco farmers from various regions who incorporated in Kretek Rescue National Coalition (KNPK)[kretek is the Indonesian term for flavoured cigarettes] demonstrated by surrounding the State Palace on Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara, Central Jakarta. In this action, they demanded the Act Draft (RUU) about Control of Tobacco Products Impact for Health and the Regulation Implementation Draft (RPP) of Security on Materials Containing Addictive Substance in form of Tobacco Products to be canceled.

Abhisam Demosa as Head of National Kretek said the rules were feared threatened the life of tobacco farmers and workers in Indonesia. “It could also threaten the hawkers and cigarettes seller agents,” he expressed, Wednesday. Besides carried coffins [ironic, this], demonstrators also brought a property of big cigarette which burned and smoked alternately. Because of this demonstration, traffic flows in front of the State Palace severely congested. In fact, Jl. Veteran III was closed temporarily.

Hundreds of security officers stand by at the scene equipped with two units of water canon car and one unit of barracuda. To block demonstrators, officers installed barbed wires along 100 meters from the State Palace. This demonstration did not only cause congestion in front of the State Palace, but also on Jl. Veterean, Jl. Merdeka Barat towards HI Roundabout and vice versa, as well as around Harmoni area.
Smoke 'em if you got 'em? These habits are dying hard throughout the world.