Anti Smoking Campaign, Jakarta

Feb 11th, 2010, in Opinion, by

Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo and the Health Dept to deny smokers and their families health care.

Witch-Hunt Gathers Strength

The latest edict from our Jakarta leaders and betters is just another side-swipe at the poor. City governor Fauzi Bowo wants smokers to be denied health benefits. Grizzled Fuzzy:

…low-income families spend 22% of their income on cigarettes. These people enjoy free health care,while still smoking, which worsens their health.

Dien EmawatiHis female flunky, the head of the Jakarta Health Agency Dien Emawati, stressed that not only would the wicked smokers be persecuted but

all the family members living in the same house…becuase they share the responsibility of maintaining a healthy environment.

However, these bureaucrats have not yet decided on a method to identify smokers.

Well, that’s something. What’s it going to be, Fuzzy? Check their tongues for furry skin texture? Their breath for that ash-tray fragrance? Make them cough a few times. Or have a kind of kretek/sharia police prowling round the kampungs, grabbing guys off their door-steps and torturing them till they own up to how many packs a day?

Fauzi BowoThe thing is, if you are poor and don’t have much money to go out and have a good time, a category to which most kampung dwellers belong, then you’re likely to smoke to pass the time agreeably. A cup of kopi Jawa over a fag (sorry, Yanks, that’s a cigarette, not a poofter) is a pleasant way to hang out with your mates.

So inevitably the kill-joys, busily stamping on dissent in the blasphemy debate, and denouncing hair-straightening salons, have now turned their guns on a pastime that is not illegal and brings in vast revenue – uh-oh; revenue.

Money talks, here as much or more than elsewhere, so maybe the smokers’ health ban will be as effective as the smoking ban in Blok M Terminal…not.

79 Comments on “Anti Smoking Campaign, Jakarta”

  1. Chris says:

    Hi Ross,

    I agree that it may not be the most effective scheme to stop people smoking, but at least it’s a step in the right direction…

    Approximately 400 000 people die from smoking-related illnesses every year (a lot more than any natural disasters), and smoking is a major contributor to keeping the poor poor; yet there are relatively few people/charities working to reduce this.

    Check this out for more information.

  2. bs says:

    On the other hand, imagine all people in Indonesia being healthy and living longer (and this happening in a short time span).

    More people, same resources, I’d predict trouble ahead.

  3. Odinius says:

    Those longer-living fellows would also have more years of productivity, which generates growth, while the state could use the funds currently dedicated to ailing smokers on projects that, well, produce something. While I don’t see this being the best solution to Indonesia’s smoking problem, if one were to emerge, that would be a good thing.

    Also, Ross:

    So inevitably the kill-joys, busily stamping on dissent in the blasphemy debate, and denouncing hair-straightening salons, have now turned their guns on a pastime that is not illegal and brings in vast revenue – uh-oh; revenue.

    Are you saying these are the same people? As far as I know, Fauzi hasn’t been a part of those issues, nor have those people been a part of the anti-smoking campaign. Am I wrong? Proof?

  4. Ross says:

    No, I’m not saying they are the same kill-joys, nor have I any proof to suggest it. But kill-joys of different stripes are still a pain.
    You may be aware that the regime in Britain has been building up a crescendo of censorious messages against drinkers, and that awful Jamie character has led a crusade, or jihad, against parents who don’t feed their kids muesli and carrots as a main meal. (i hyperbole here, but you can check it out.)
    Anything folks like is a target for these sorts, and if peole like smoking, they surely shouldn’t be denied access to health care facilities. Any more than guys who like skiing or rugby Or ladies who diet excessively.

  5. Erna says:

    Make people conscious how bad smoking is for them self and for their whole surrounding.
    I hope that Indonesia can follow the example of Europe and India and that they make 100% non smoking restaurants or cafe’s where food is served. It’s uncomfortable when you not smoke to eat where smoking is aloud. Maybe government can start with high raise of tax on cigarettes and put this extra money beside for good purposes in health care who is a big need in Indonesia.

  6. Chris says:

    Hi Ross,

    I get the feeling that you are a smoker yourself… am I correct?

    (I’m not suggesting you are biased, I just think it might be good to clarify your own status. For the record, I am a non-smoker.)

  7. deta says:

    The cynic in me would say that this policy is only meant to reduce the proportion of the budget govt has to spend on free health care (as if it’s needed to be reduced), especially by denying health benefits for the smokers’ family too.

    “all the family members living in the same house…becuase they share the responsibility of maintaining a healthy environment.”

    That’s nonsense. How can babies be responsible for their fathers’ smoking behaviour?

  8. BrotherMouzone says:

    all the family members living in the same house…becuase they share the responsibility of maintaining a healthy environment.

    So basically, 90% of the population of Jakarta.

    I do agree that people who indulge in risky health behavior should see some reflection of that in their healthcare coverage. The problem is how to administer it fairly. The logical approach is to increase tax on cigarettes and use the revenue to improve healthcare as Erna says.

    Denying healthcare to high risk groups is, of course, daft and unworkable. It’s also a slippery slope… do we eventually deny healthcare to McDonald’s eaters? To people who play extreme sports? To people who run?

    For the record, I am an ex-smoker – I know, nobody likes a quitter…

    You may be aware that the regime in Britain has been building up a crescendo of censorious messages against drinkers, and that awful Jamie character has led a crusade, or jihad, against parents who don’t feed their kids muesli and carrots as a main meal.

    Giving parents more information about the greasy muck they are feeding their kids and campaigning for healthier school meals is awful? By the time my kids are grown, obesity will likely be a bigger killer than smoking related diseases.

  9. ET says:

    deta said

    “That’s nonsense. How can babies be responsible for their fathers’ smoking behaviour?”

    They can according to the Indonesian authorities. If they wouldn’t cry so much and get on their fathers’ nerves these poor fellows wouldn’t need cigarettes to calm down.

    Never underestimate the wisdom of your leaders, deta.

    @ Patung

    I tried to hover and click but it doesn’t work.

  10. Burung Koel says:

    Daddy smokes and drinks because you cry.

  11. deta says:

    No, daddy, I cry because you smoke and cough all night so I can’t sleep.

  12. Burung Koel says:

    I was being ironic.

  13. David says:

    No, daddy, I cry because you smoke and cough all night so I can’t sleep.

    My dad’s coughing does bring back awful memories, although at 83 he’s still going, and the doctors are still telling him to quit or you’ll die, which is pretty silly really at his age,…. this was interesting, The Scientific Scandal of Antismoking, although I’m sure someone will produce tons of links to the contrary…

    @ Patung

    I tried to hover and click but it doesn’t work.

    I dunno, works for me in both IE and firefox, it’s only temporary thing until I can figure out how to get that html toolbar back which is now broke.

  14. Burung Koel says:

    Other titles of Bad, Bad Children’s Books include: “Kathy Was So Bad Her Mom Stopped Loving Her.”

    Here’s the rest:

    1. You Are Different and That’s Bad
    2. The Boy Who Died From Eating All His Vegetables
    3. Dad’s New Wife Robert
    4. Fun Four-Letter Words to Know and Share
    5. Hammers, Screwdrivers and Scissors: An I-Can-Do-It Book
    6. The Kids’ Guide to Hitchhiking.
    7. Curious George and the High-Voltage Fence
    8. All Cats Go to Hell
    9. The Little Sissy Who Snitched
    10. Some Puppies Can Fly
    11. That’s it, I’m Putting You Up for Adoption
    12. Grandpa Gets a Casket
    13. The Magic World Inside the Abandoned Refrigerator
    14. Garfield Gets Feline Leukemia
    15. The Pop-Up Book of Human Anatomy
    16. Strangers Have the Best Candy
    17. Whining, Kicking and Crying to Get Your Way
    18. You Were an Accident
    19. Things Rich Kids Have, But You Never Will
    20. Pop! Goes The Hamster…And Other Great Microwave Games
    21. The Man in the Moon Is Actually Satan
    22. Your Nightmares Are Real
    23. Where Would You Like to Be Buried?
    24. Eggs, Toilet Paper, and Your School
    25. Why Can’t Mr. Fork and Ms. Electrical Outlet Be Friends?
    26. Places Where Mommy and Daddy Hide Neat Things
    27. Daddy Drinks Because You Cry

  15. deta says:

    28. Honey, You Are a Jinx

  16. David says:

    From the facebook comments on this post

    Alhamdullillah, I was shocked on my visit to Jakarta that people even smoke in masjids.

  17. Ross says:

    Can’t quite see how anybody can justify denying heath-care to spouses, children or old fols who share a house with a smoker.

    Yes, I smoke – even when I ran marathons I’d stop a couple of months before the race, then light up as soon as I crossed the finish line, much to the horror of all the fitness fanatics who were doing press-ups etc..

    I also enjoy a drink, and am dismayed by the bureacrats who are telling Brits, and other Western countries’ people, that if they have more than two glasses of wine after they’re home from work, they are out of order. Next we’ll get the health gestapo trying to deny those modest tipplers what their huge tax burden entitles them to.

    As a tax-payer in the Old Country, I paid my due whack and would have objected strongly if some pin-headed politician had tried to stop me getting my fair share of hospital treatment.

    Since when should governments tell parents what to feed their children? Fish n chips or jam sandwiches or – a specialty of mine once beloved by my own young and the envy of their pals – deep-fried Cornish Pasties. Yeah, i’d thorw together a slad snadwich in the summer-time, but had a po-faced social worker attempted to dictate to me, into that deep-fat frier they’d go!

  18. Ross says:

    That was a ‘salad sandwich,’ by the way.

  19. madrotter says:

    i’m in full agreement with ross here…

  20. Odinius says:

    Ross said:

    Can’t quite see how anybody can justify denying heath-care to spouses, children or old fols who share a house with a smoker.

    This I agree with. But I do think smoking should be banned from restaurants and enclosed public spaces, given the health risks it poses to others.

  21. Ross says:

    Welll, Odinius, we agree on one thing at least. And I hope you will agree with me also that Jalan Thamrin, Sudirman and the above-ground level of Blok M Terminal are not enclosed public spaces. The real health-hazard in the last-named is the unique approach to road-safety of the metro-mini-drivers.

    It’s the sheer aggressive intolerance of the anti-smokers that bugs me. When I had occasion to visit Siloam Hospital at Kebon Jeruk a while ago, I wanted a smoke, so politely went out onto the front steps. A slightly embarrassed security man told me I wasn’t allowed to smoke even outside the hospital. Where’s the sense in that?

    Restaurants should be fair – an area for smokers and non-smokers, though ultimately that decision should NOT be for bureaucrats but for individual managements, same for bars.

  22. Ross says:

    And as for obesity, better to stop the self-indulgence of the spoilt brats who waddle into Indonesian schools, their gluttony the work of poor wee baby-sisters who are not allowed to say no. One deep-fried pasty is sufficient per day. But again, that is the parents’ responsibility, not the state’s.

  23. Odinius says:

    As long as there’s an open roof, other people smoking doesn’t bother me. They should quit, for their own health, but as long as it’s just a risk they’re taking themselves, and only for themselves, I don’t find it too objectionable. People should be free to tempt fate with their own health, provided they don’t affect others directly by it.

  24. Burung Koel says:

    Let’s get a few things straight.

    First, restricting smoking in public places is NOT an attack on anyone’s personal freedoms. Rather, in a Benthamite way, it is a way of increasing the total net freedom of a society. Why? I’ll give you an example – when smoking has been banned in pubs and restaurants, guess what happens? Business and patronage actually INCREASE because non-smokers feel more comfortable there and stay longer. More people are therefore able to enjoy a night out at a particular venue.

    As far as I know, no-one has ever realistically suggested that tobacco consumption be made illegal. In fact, the regulation of tobacco – taxes, public health campaigns and information, restrictions on advertising, limiting access by age, use in public etc, is probably a model for the legalisation of other currently banned substances. Which is something I would personally support as an effective alternative to the so-called War on Drugs.

    Ross has conflated many of his arguments with railings against the ‘regime’ in Britain, concerned with things like drinking and dieting. As far as I know, Ross, the democratically elected government there has not made drinking or junk food illegal. They have (like many governments around the world) mounted public health campaigns about the dangers of such. This is actually a good investment of your tax money – as prevention costs a whole lot less than curing long term diseases associated with alcohol abuse and obesity.

    Thirty thousand people die every year on the roads in Indonesia. I’m sure that nobody would object to spending money on road safety education, as well as enforcing vehicle safety and speed limits. These are similar preventative measures to a public health problem, but I don’t hear many people complaining that road safety campaigns are attacks on their personal freedom to speed, go through red lights or not get their car checked regularly. All are dangers to yourself and the public, like smoking.

    Which brings us back to health services. The idea of smokers paying more is no doubt raised as part of getting a discussion going. Indonesia is not the only place where this idea has surfaced. It draws attention to the fact that there are implications for personal and public health because people choose to smoke. Despite taxes on tobacco, the costs of providing health services to patients with smoking related diseases is still higher than the revenue collected, in Western countries at least. Get onto the WHO web site (ref: World Anti Tobacco Day) if you want to look at some scary data.

    And just on paying more – insurance companies already charge higher premiums for smokers, sky divers, ultralight pilots and people like me who travel to war zones as part of a job. With health insurance, I would rightly object to paying the same as someone who smokes two packs a day. Don’t think insurance companies don’t know – they have actuarial tables that can predict how much sicker a smoker is going to get, and how much earlier they are going to die. When gambling is involved, the betting market always sets the correct price.

    Disclosure: not a smoker, but my father died aged 57 from lung cancer after a lifetime of smoking.

  25. Ross says:

    Burung, sorry about your Dad, but can’t go along with your arguments, esp. the one about business increasing in restos/bars if smokers are discriminated against. Pubs in Britain are being decimated (or worse) due to the regime’s ban.
    Gotta get to work now, but will resume anon.

  26. Burung Koel says:

    It seems counter intuitive, and you would expect initial objections from pub and restaurant owners, but it appears to work.

  27. Odinius says:

    Pubs are in trouble in Britain because they are perceived of as ‘old fashioned’ and ‘boring,’ as I understand it. Not sure the correlation is there with smoking, as that is also banned in the bars and clubs that are replacing them.

  28. Ross says:

    Don’t know which parts of the UK you refer to, but people as a rule appreciated pubs and regard them as community centres.

    Two clips from BBC news,

    Northern Ireland | Smoking ban ‘has closed …
    More than 100 bars in Northern Ireland closed their doors in the year following the smoking ban, it is claimed. … Another 100 pubs are expected to close in the next 12 months … – 50k – Cached
    Wales | Smoking ban ‘could close pubs’
    Licensees say more than a quarter of pubs and bars in Wales could close if smoking is banned.

    I also see the regime’s fury against uncowed smokers has led it to plan a fresh assault on doorways and beer gardens. The pubs are being directly targeted for extinction. Perhaps they are too traditionally British.

  29. Burung Koel says:


    Thanks for linking those articles, however they are speculative in linking the closing of any pubs to the ban on smoking. Both quote spin doctors from the industry, and the second one has no evidence at all of alleged closures in Wales. Tobacco companies are also furiously lobbying through their counterparts in the breweries and hotel owners. However even your first article admits that while 7 per cent of pubs in Northern Ireland may have closed (with no reasons given), many other pubs have done ‘extremely well’ since the ban. (Note: How can anyone go out of business running a pub in Ireland?)

    As I mentioned before (and the previous article I linked to attests), the experience in other countries where smoking restrictions have been implemented has been positive, especially for businesses. Think about it in terms of their core business operations. Pubs have liquor licences and restaurants serve food. People don’t go there primarily to smoke, but to drink, eat and socialise. They can smoke at home, or these days in the alleyway behind the establishment, or in a designated outdoor area. In Australia, pubs and restaurants are busier than ever, and much more pleasant places to visit since smoking has been restricted.

    Also think about it in terms of other businesses operating over the last few decades. Cinemas didn’t close because smoking was banned. Airlines didn’t stop flying when passengers were prevented from lighting up. Shopping malls still attract masses of customers. Are you suggesting that we return to free smoking in all those places?

    Call me old fashioned, but when I make an assertion or give an opinion, I like it to be based on verifiable facts. The pro-smoking lobby, backed by the tobacco companies, doesn’t have a very good record with the truth, as I’m sure you know already.

  30. Ross says:

    One little difference between N.I., Scotland, England and Wales, on the one hand, and Aussie on the other – the weather. You can sit in a pub garden most of the year in Sydney or Melbourne. Only the hardiest souls choose to do so in the UK.

    A pub – correct title, public house – is just that, a place like being at home, where you can do as you please. Subject of course to the publican’s will, we always looked forward to a pint and a smoke and meeting all our pals who were doing the same.
    A landlord/lady could decree no smoking, – up to them, but then we could find another pub with a more tolerant attitude.
    I plucked those quotes from the BBC, but check out publicans’ business magazines, and you’ll hear what the landlords think. They are in a position to know, and if they felt the repressive legislation was no prob, they wouldn’t be complaining so bitterly.

    As for shops and malls, that should also be up to management. As you say, people can vote with their feet, and if there is choice, then shoppers may shop as they like.

    Planes of course have a monopoly de facto. Can’t visit Oz from UK or Canada from here, without ’em. So of course people have to use ’em, smokes or no. But the various regimes have treated smokers shamefully in airports. Some airports have nowhere at all, and horrible Heathrow makes the public shiver out on the dismal street.

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