Jakarta should restrict cigarette distribution zones

School areas remains an easy target for cigarette sellers in Jakarta, as proven from the omnipresent cigarette stalls around the learning institution.

A 2020 research from the Center for Social Security Studies at the University of Indonesia (PKJS UI) showed that there were eight retail cigarette stalls around each school in Jakarta. Some of them are even located less than 100 meters from the school.

The center’s head of researcher, Risky Kusuma Hartono, said that junior high schools (SMP) were the main target for the cigarette retail sales, with a propotion of 26.1 percent. Surprisingly, the proportion of elementary schools (SD) targeted by cigarette retailers reached 21.5 percent, higher than that of the senior high schools (SMA), which was 15.6 percent.

“The location of schools provides easy access for students to buy cigarette per stick,” Risky told Jaring on Thursday, July 29, 2021.

According to Risky, almost all cigarette stalls located around schools install cigarette advertisement media, ranging from stickers to banners. Many stalls also sell cigarettes per stick, making it affordable for students with limited pocket money.

Risky also highlighted that massive advertising and easy access to cigarettes have driven the number of teenage smokers in Jakarta.

National Survey on Social and Economy (Susenas) by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) in March 2019 showed that the number of smokers aged 15 years old in Jakarta reached 26 percent. They smoked 72 cigarettes per week or 10.5 cigarettes per day.

The high consumption rate of novice smokers, said Risky, is primarily due to the affordable retail prices of cigarettes that range from Rp 1.500 to Rp 2.000 per stick. Within a week, retail cigarette traders are able to sell more than 300 cigarettes. “Even if the buyers don’t have money, they can still get the cigarettes by owing to the stall,” he said.

So far, the government’s efforts to control cigarette consumption by increasing excise taxes are not effective because cigarettes remain accessible and affordable for most people. Moreover, until now, not all regions, such as Jakarta, have local regulations or bylaws concerning Non-Cigarette Areas (KTR), he added.

Baca juga: The protracted revision of tobacco control regulation

Jakarta still adheres to limited regulations in the form of Jakarta Governor Regulation Number 88 of 2010 concerning Non-Smoking Areas.

“The regulation is only enforced inside the school. Then how about the surrounding areas? Only a few schools attempt to limit the students’ access to cigarettes through an agreement between the school and the merchant. There are also some other schools that specifically have a contract with the stalls to forbid them selling cigarettes to students,” he said.

According to Risky, the Governor Regulation Number 88 of 2010, is almost similar to the Regulation of Education and Culture Minister Number 64 of 2015 concerning Non-Smoking Areas in the School Environment. These two regulations only forbid the principal, teachers, school employees, students and other parties inside the school area to smoke. The problem is that the regulations do not forbid cigarette retailers to sell the tobacco products around the school area.

In Indonesia, there is no regulation that clearly divides areas where selling cigarettes are allowed. This is different from the condition in China and India, since both countries have applied limitation of cigarette selling areas.

The zones where cigarette sales are allowed should be located at least 100 meters away from education centers. Meanwhile, in the United States and Canada, retailers are not allowed to sell cigarettes to teenagers.

The United States authorities even hire third parties to supervise and give sanctions to stalls selling retail cigarettes to teenagers, while Canada specifically prohibits the sale of cigarettes per stick.

A research by PKJS UI that photographed the density of cigarette stalls in Jakarta using Google Maps and Google Street View showed that there were at least 8,371 stalls selling cigarettes per stick throughout Jakarta. The stalls are mostly located in the densely populated areas, particularly in East Jakarta, where there are 3,085 stalls, followed by West Jakarta with 2,136 stalls, Central Jakarta with 1,457 stalls, South Jakarta with 1,293 stalls and North Jakarta with 397 stalls.

If the number of cigarette stalls is compared to the total area of Jakarta, it shows that there are around 15 stalls within every square kilometer, or there is at least one stall among the areas inhabited by 1,000 residents.

The following data illustrates the number and the distribution of retail cigarette stalls in  Jakarta in 2020.

Given the widespread of retail cigarette stalls that made cigarettes very affordable and easy to get, Risky pushed for the issuance of bylaw on Non-Cigarette Areas in Jakarta and the revision of Government Regulation Number 109 of 2012 concerning the Safety of Materials Containing Addictive Substances in the Form of Tobacco Products for Health. This Government Regulation should be able to prohibit the retail sale of cigarettes.

As for the bylaw on Non-Cigarette Areas in Jakarta, Risky pointed out that the ban of cigarette advertisement in residential areas should be strengthened. This is because PKJS UI found that around 80 percent of cigarette advertisements in DKI are placed in residential areas and narrow alleys in the densely populated areas.

Agus Suyatno, the caretaker of the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI), said that Jakarta should treat cigarettes like alcoholic beverages. The advertisement and sale of cigarettes must be regulated specifically, considering its effects on health, as well as marketing techniques that target the poor.

Since 2010, YLKI together with a number of civil society coalitions have pushed for the issuance of a bylaw on Non-Cigarette Areas in Jakarta. However, since it was first proposed in the program for the formation of bylaw (Propemperda) in the same year, the draft of the bylaw has not been ratified.

In fact, according to Agus, the presence of Non-Cigarette Areas in the capital is important to perfect all regulations related to the distribution of cigarettes, such as the bylaw on non-smoking areas and outdoor cigarette advertisements. The Jakarta Government should harmonize smoking-related regulations by using the terminology that is currently applied nationally, which is “Non-Cigarette Areas”, to replace the old one of “Non-Smoking Areas.”

The old terminology is no longer relevant, since it merely prohibits the smoking activity without limiting the widespread cigarette advertisement and stalls selling retail cigarettes.

Therefore, the policy does not only include the a ban on smoking activities, but also restrictions on the distribution of advertisements and the location of cigarette traders. “Traders can still sell cigarettes without having to display the cigarettes. Traders in Jakarta can do it that way,” said Agus.

Jakarta is one of the areas that lagged behind surrounding areas in terms of implementing a bylaw on Non-Cigarette Areas. The areas include the city of Bekasi, which has implemented the bylaw since November 2019, Bogor municipality since 2018, Bogor regency in 2016, followed by Tangerang municipality in the same year. Meanwhile, in Depok city, the bylaw has started to take effect since 2014 and has later been revised in 2020. In Tangerang regency, the implementation of the bylaw started in 2018.

Baca juga: Pemerintah Tak Kompak Revisi PP 109

Deputy Chairman of the Bylaw Formation Agency (Bapemperda) at the Jakarta Provincial Council, Dedi Supriyadi, admitted that the province was slow to deliberate the bylaw. He said the draft of the bylaw had been included in the discussion plan at least three times, but the legislators failed to meet the deadline.

In 2016, for example, the draft bylaw would actually be discussed at the plenary session, but the plan was hampered by corruption cases that befell a number of council members in 2017. Three years later, in 2019, the discussion was delayed because it coincided with the change of council members of the board. Last year, the draft could not be brought for discussion due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even so, the draft was then being resubmitted to the 2021 Propemperda, thanks to the initiative of the provincial council members.

“In 2020, we were only able to complete eight bylaws. In 2021, we understand that the pandemic is still going on, thus our activities are limited. Even this month, the government implemented a public activity restriction (PPKM), so practically we are not allowed to hold  meetings intensively,” he said when contacted by Jaring on Wednesday, August 4, 2021.

Dedi said that the provincial council had welcomed and taken notes on the aspirations of the people and had included the draft bylaw on Non-Cigarette Areas in the Propemperda. Currently, the academic paper and draft rules are ready. Broadly speaking, the draft has been expanded to include articles about the importance of passive smokers to breathe clean air in the capital, since it is one of their basic needs.

Dedi said he agreed about the implementation of zoning for cigarette sales in certain areas, particularly schools and the surrounding areas. However, as of now, the bylaw has not been discussed because the head of the council has not issued a disposition to the council representatives who drafted the bylaw (Bapemperda) to carry out discussions. The council, he said, was still struggling to discuss regulations related to the budget and handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are trying to finish drafting the bylaw this year. But we have to be aware that the council consists of 106 people, five of whom are the leaders who have the authority to decide whether a draft will be discussed or postponed due to lack of time,” he said.

The bylaw was previously proposed by a number of factions in the provincial council, such as the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), the Golkar Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). Council member, Anthony Winza Probowo, said that it was urgent to issue the bylaw during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is because the patients who used to be smokers were more susceptible to have a worsening health condition.

“PSI continues to support the draft on Non-Cigarette Areas to be discussed very soon, as well as other bylaws that PSI has proposed, including the bylaw on the food endowment fund. This is very important, especially during a pandemic,” he said.

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Binti Rosidah is one of more than 1.6 million Indonesians living and working in Malaysia. She has been working as a domestic worker in Kuala

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