Sat, 18 Mar 2000

Small firm compliant with new regulation

SEMARANG, West Java (JP): A small clove cigarette manufacturer has said the government's new ruling on nicotine and tar levels was achievable, denying it would hurt the country's clove cigarette industry.

Henry Santoso, the owner of a home industry producing Djirak clove cigarette in Semarang, told visiting reporters recently he had successfully produced clove cigarette using locally grown tobacco with a nicotine and a tar content compliant with the level stipulated in the new governmental regulation.

"We have completed our production experiment using locally grown tobacco and it was a success," said Henry.

He said the cigarette's nicotine and tar content had been measured at cigarette manufacturers PT British American Tobacco (BAT) Indonesia's laboratory in Jakarta.

Governmental decree No. 81/1999, issued in October last year, requires cigarettes produced and sold in Indonesia to contain a maximum 1.5 milligrams of nicotine and 20 milligrams of tar.

Henry said he could meet the nicotine and tar content requirements set by the new regulation by using a special type of cigarette filter and paper imported from Australia, and by making his cigarettes slimmer.

"We will start small production of the cigarettes commercially this year," Henry said.

During trial production last December, Henry said he had managed to produce cigarettes with 19.3 milligram of tar and 0.87 milligram of nicotine.

Indonesian clove cigarettes usually contain about 50 milligrams of tar and 3 milligrams of nicotine. Regular cloveless cigarettes have already complied with the standards set in the new ruling.

Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Cigarette Producers (Gappri) Ismanu Soemiran dismissed Henry's success, judging the laboratory tests conducted on the cigarette to be invalid.

"The laboratory report came from PT BAT Indonesia -- a party that is not independent in this matter," he said.

"Djirak story is part of a campaign by multinational cigarette producers operating in Indonesia who want to take over clove cigarette's dominant market share here," he added.

Djirak was such a small producer that its success could not be used as a reference point, added Ismanu.

Henry currently produces 1.2 million Djirak cigarettes per month using only one machine.

He started his cigarette business in 1987, producing 10 million cigarettes per month. Due to stiff competition with larger cigarette manufacturers he has gradually had to lower production to its current level.

Ismanu said the new ruling was in favor of regular cloveless cigarette manufacturers and would hurt the local clove cigarette industry.

"Cloves make a cigarette high-tar while locally grown tobacco has a high nicotine content. Tobacco with a low nicotine level has to be imported from other countries," Ismanu said.

He said the association had recently formally rejected the new ruling in a letter sent to the government. (udi)