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Poll Shows Indonesians Believe Smoking is a Serious Problem, Support International Health Treaty Aimed at Reducing Tobacco Use

Indonesians Overwhelmingly Support Measures to Decrease Tobacco Use, Including Strong Pack Warnings, Advertising Bans, Increased Tobacco Taxes and Smoke Free Environments
July 07, 2008

Washington, D.C. — According to a poll released today by the Indonesian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (IFPPD), residents of Indonesia believe that tobacco use is a serious problem in Indonesia, and more than 90 percent support ratifying the international health treaty aimed at reducing tobacco use, the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The FCTC states countries should adopt scientifically proven measures to reduce tobacco use, including strong pack warnings, advertising bans, increased tobacco taxes and protection from exposure to tobacco smoke.

'Indonesia is the only country in Southeast Asia that has not yet ratified the FCTC, and the results of this poll clearly show the people of Indonesia strongly support stronger tobacco control legislation,' said Dr. Hakim Sorimuda Pohan, IFPPD. 'With approximately 20 percent of deaths in Indonesia related to tobacco, now is the time for the government to take action to protect the health of its citizens.'

The poll found that more than 90 percent of residents support ratifying the FCTC. The poll was conducted in eight major cities, with a majority of Indonesians in each of the cities in favor, along with majorities of all major demographic groups. Support for specific FCTC measures was also high, with findings showing the following:

  • Indonesians overwhelmingly favor stronger pack warnings, with 97 percent stating that there should be stronger and more visible warning messages on tobacco products.
  • Most residents, 88 percent, believe tobacco product advertising should be completely banned.
  • Eighty-eight percent of Indonesians also believe tobacco taxes should be increased, with some revenue going to tobacco cessation programs and to helping prevent children from starting to smoke.

The poll also showed that Indonesians believe secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard, and that the government is not doing enough to protect them from the dangers of secondhand smoke. This is reflected by findings that show 99 percent of Indonesians support smoke free hospitals and clinics, and 93 percent support smoke free offices and indoor workplaces. Support is also strong for prohibiting smoking in other public areas, such as restaurants, shopping areas and public transport.

'It has been proven time and time again that secondhand smoke poses a serious threat to people’s health, and has been shown to cause everything from lung cancer and heart disease to sudden infant death syndrome,' said Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 'The poll shows that Indonesians clearly understand this, with most believing that their right to breathe smoke-free air and live healthy lives is more important than allowing smoking in public. The only way to provide effective protection from secondhand smoke is by requiring smoke free public places.'

With the majority of Indonesians believing the government is not doing enough to protect them from tobacco, the government should take action to ratify the FCTC and pass strong tobacco control legislation. On June 19, four community groups filed a suit against the Indonesian government for negligence in protecting citizen’s health from tobacco and asserting that comprehensive tobacco control regulations must be implemented. Implementing the scientific proven measures called for by the FCTC is the first step in reducing tobacco use and saving lives.

QuirkGlobal Strategies conducted the survey with 1200 face-to-face interviews with urban Indonesians, over the age of 18, between May 31 and June 26, 2008. The survey was conducted in eight cities on the Islands of Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi, which constitute nearly 90 percent of the population The margin of error for the sample as a whole is whole is +/- 2.8% at the 95% level of confidence.