Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | 19:18 WIB

Control policy for tobacco products: Need ASAP

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Jakarta, IO – The 2018 Baseline Health Research shows that the national alcohol consumption in Indonesia is a mere 3% of the population, thanks to strict regulations regulating everything from its production process to distribution. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about cigarettes and other tobacco products, whose prevalence of use among teens and children continues to increase – from 7.2% in 2013 to 9.1% in 2018. 

This is understandable, as cigarettes contain the addictive chemical known as nicotine, among others, which compels use despite being a cause of fatal diseases over the long term. A study performed by the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (Perhimpunan Bantuan Hukum dan HAM Indonesia–PBHI) found that regulations concerning alcoholic beverages in this country are very strict, while those relating to tobacco products are relatively more flexible. Furthermore, there are no specific technical regulations concerning the marketing and distribution of tobacco products. 

dr. Adhi Wibowo Nurhidayat, Sp.KJ, MPH
dr. Adhi Wibowo Nurhidayat, Sp.KJ, MPH (Source: MMC HOSPITAL)

“The most basic difference is that alcoholic beverages can only be purchased and consumed in licensed places, while tobacco products can be purchased and consumed anywhere, other than in smoking-free areas. However, if tobacco control regulations are tightened to match alcohol regulations, we can restrict the prevalence of tobacco consumption as well. After all, both types of product are highly addictive and cause a negative impact on society in terms of health,” reported Gina Sabrina, PBHI researcher, in the “Comparison Study of the Control Policies for Alcoholic Beverage and Tobacco Products” discussion held on Tuesday (25/7/2023). 

Demographic Bonus 

Head of the Ministry of Health Directorate of the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases’ Tobacco-Caused Disease Work Team, dr. Benget Saragih, M.Epid., reports on Government attempts to suppress the increasing number of new smokers in Indonesia. The number of child-aged new smokers in our country is quite high, and the number continues to increase. Efforts to control tobacco products are constantly being made. This is necessary to prevent the demographic bonus of 2030 from turning into a demographic disaster, as most of the population becomes ill and unproductive because of early cigarette consumption. 

Read: Hepatitis-Free Generation: “We’re Not Waiting”

“The Ministry of Health has strengthened regulations concerning tobacco control. The new Health Law regulates cigarettes as an addictive substance. This will be further strengthened by Government Regulations which include, among others, stricter restrictions concerning cigarette product advertisements, promotions, and sponsorships. We are also bolstering public education concerning the dangers of smoking,” dr. Benget said. 

During the same event, dr. Adhi Wibowo Nurhidayat, Sp.KJ, MPH, of the Indonesian Psychiatry Association (Perhimpunan Dokter Spesialis Kedokteran Jiwa Indonesia– PDSKJI) Addiction Psychiatry Section, reiterates that alcohol and cigarette are as addictive as narcotics. “The younger you are when you start consuming them, the harder it is to get free from the addiction. You cannot stop because your own brain betrays you – it keeps a physical memory of the pleasure from consuming the addictive substance because the substance literally alters their physical and chemical makeup. As the brain gets used to the substance, it will crave for higher dosages, just to register the same level of pleasure. This becomes even worse for teen and child addicts, because their growth is endangered by their addiction,” he said. (est)

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