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Indonesia’s Capital City Jakarta commits to tobacco control

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Convening 229 participants, Jakarta’s provincial government held a virtual inter-departmental seminar on 18 February to enhance a whole of government approach to tobacco control, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The session built accountability and commitments from all departments to strengthen task force team member technical skills and capacity to implement and enforce tobacco control. In addition to adopting a 100% smokefree policy and a complete ban on all outdoor tobacco billboards, Jakarta is also the Indonesian province with the highest percentage of subnational tobacco tax specifically allocated for tobacco control programs.

Dr. Widyastuti, Head of Health Office, opened the session explaining the history of Jakarta’s tobacco control program, including the implementation and enforcement of smokefree and TAPS ban. She emphasized that Jakarta is battling the COVID-19 pandemic, tuberculosis, and non-communicable diseases—and that smoking is a risk factor for all three.

Mr. Zainal, Head of the Social Welfare Bureau, added that smokefree implementation and enforcement is now listed in Jakarta’s 2021 Regional Performance Strategies, an important move signaling the government’s commitment to protect people from the dangers of tobacco smoke and improve overall air quality. Head of Division, Jakarta Civil Police, Mr. T. P. Purba said that as Jakarta’s primary enforcement agency, his division is responsible for the ambitious 100% smokefree and TAPS ban compliance.

These efforts are aligned with the national government's target to scale up smokefree implementation in Indonesia. At the end of 2020, 278 cities/districts (out of 514) adopted comprehensive 100% smokefree local policies. Dr. Theresia Sandra, Ministry of Health, said that the government also aims to expand smoking cessation clinics to at least 350 cities/districts by 2024. The Ministry also hopes to enlarge pictorial health warnings to cover 90% of the tobacco pack.

Collaboration–from the local government, national government, international partners, and civil society organisations–is key to creating healthy environments. So is debunking misinformation. Dollaris Riauaty Suhadi, Principal Advisor to the Smoke Free Jakarta, shared important data demonstrating that banning tobacco advertising has not impacted local revenue, despite what the tobacco industry purports.

Tara Singh Bam, Deputy Regional Director of The Union’s Asia Pacific Office, praised the capital city’s remarkable progress over the last ten years. “Jakarta is an excellent model for effective use of subnational tobacco tax; the city has created a sustainable source of funds that can be used to implement life-saving smokefree policies.”