Wed, 04 Jun 2003

Councillors welcome ban on smoking in public places

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A number of councillors gave strong support on Tuesday for the plan of Governor Sutiyoso to ban smoking in public places like shopping malls, offices, and on public buses and trains.

They advised the city administration to draft a bylaw on the ban, which will become the legal basis for the policy stipulating punishment for violators.

Muhayar RM, a councillor from the Justice Party (PK), stressed that his faction will support the city administration's move but said that such a policy could not be only ruled by a gubernatorial decree.

"A bylaw is needed as without it, the enforcement cannot be upheld as there would be no legal consequences for violators," Muhayar told The Jakarta Post.

Sutiyoso said he planned to issue a regulation on the smoking ban in public places when speaking during a ceremony for the tobacco free day last Saturday.

His statement was repeated on Monday, saying that the policy is expected to be enforced this year. He said that he would issue an instruction shortly which would oblige building owners to implement the policy, including providing an isolated area for smokers.

"Buildings owners, for example, should prepare a special room for smokers so that they will not disturb other people," he added.

Muhayar said such a regulation was needed to promote a healthier way of life for urban dwellers, adding that such a regulation has been enforced in a number of developed countries like the United States and Singapore.

"I think, it is a good idea that should be supported by the public," he added.

A similar comment came from Syamsidar Siregar, a councillor from the National Mandate Party (PAN), who also stressed the need for the city administration to draft a bylaw on the smoking ban in public places.

"We hope that with the policy, people will not become victims of second-hand smoke. As we often see smokers smoking in public vehicles without considering the feelings of people nearby," Syamsidar said.

Data shows that some 70 percent of Indonesians are smokers. Indonesia is also a producer of cigarettes the excise duty of which contributes significantly to state revenue.