Mon, 08 Nov 1999

GAPRI fumes over new nicotine regulation

JAKARTA (JP): The Association of Indonesian Cigarette Producers (GAPPRI) has called on the government to review a new regulation which stipulates reduced nicotine and tar levels, along with a prohibition on television and radio advertising.

The association's secretary-general, Djuffan Ahmad, warned that the regulation would have disastrous effects on the country's cigarette industry, which employs millions of workers.

He further warned that the government itself would experience repercussions from the move, saying it would find it difficult to secure the Rp 10.16 trillion income targeted from cigarette duties.

"So it's clear that if the regulation is applied the negative impacts will be on a wide scale," he said on Friday, in Surakarta, Central Java.

He warned of the deleterious effects to the uniquely Indonesian clove cigarette companies.

The Government Regulation was issued on Oct. 5, 1999.

Article 4 of regulation No. 81/1999 stipulates that each cigarette must contain no more than 1.5 milligrams of nicotine and 20 milligrams of tar.

Article 17 bars cigarette companies from advertising in the electronic media.

Djuffan said the strict restrictions did not reflect the benefits of the cigarette industry, which had provided the highest source of paid duties to the government.

He suggested that the content for nicotine be raised to 3 milligrams and tar to 60 milligrams.

Djuffan also suggested that the new government regulation may have been part of a conspiracy by certain foreign elements to undermine the market share of local cigarettes

"We detected a letter to the President concerning the matter," he claimed.

Antara reported on Friday that a letter from "PT. BAT Indonesia Tbk" dated June 3 had been submitted to the president, raising attention to nicotine and tar levels which did not conform to World Health Organization (WHO) standards.

"We protest and cannot accept a regulation which was made with KKN (collusion, corruption and nepotism) elements," Djuffan.

The Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) expressed full support for the regulation.

"WHO has said that some 3.5 million lives are lost each year because of cigarettes," the foundation said in a statement warning of the hazards of cigarette smoking.

"We call on cigarette producers to take heed and make preparations for the new government regulation.

"Also to media and advertising practitioners, we ask them to be more wary in making and inserting cigarette ads in the printed media, while for television it is completely banned," the foundation said. (mds)