A researcher has called on the government to curb tobacco imports, saying that despite a sharp rise in cigarette production to 300 billion sticks per year, less than half of the tobacco used for cigarettes were supplied by local farmers.
“We recommend that the government limit the import of tobacco leaves, and if possible ban them,” Abdillah Hasan, a researcher at the University of Indonesia’s Demographic Institute (LDUI), said on Tuesday.
Abdillah said a study conducted by the LDUI showed that despite a sharp increase in cigarette production, the volume of tobacco produced by local farmers, the number of farmers and the size of plantation areas did not increase because most of the tobacco used to produce the cigarettes was imported.
He also denied the assumption that Indonesia was a tobacco haven, insisting that only three provinces — East Java, Central Java and West Nusa Tenggara — had large plantation areas, which make up around 90 percent of the total agricultural area in Indonesia.
“China is the tobacco haven,” he said.
Abdillah said Indonesia should follow China as a role model because it was the country with the highest number of tobacco farmers in the world.
“Although it has the world’s highest number of tobacco farmers, they didn’t protest when China signed the FCTC [Framework Convention on Tobacco Control],” he said.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry denied accusations that passing the tobacco impact control law would kill Indonesia’s advertising industry. Ministry official Bambang Sulistomo said ad companies could get revenue through other clients.