I believe this will not affect the livelihood of the tobacco farmers ..."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Raising cigarette prices is considered one of the most effective ways to prevent and reduce smoking, especially among teenagers.

People start smoking due to varying reasons, and once they get into the habit, it can be difficult to stop, as smoking is both physically and mentally addictive.

A person trying to forego the habit should know that quitting smoking can be as difficult as giving up other types of drug addiction.

Rarely does one hear of smokers who successfully stopped smoking on their own. On the other hand, a good treatment plan that addresses the physical and psychological aspects of addiction can go a long way in helping a smoker give up the habit for good.

Several economic studies have documented that cigarette tax and price hikes can significantly reduce the number of young adult and child smokers.

Hence, the government of Indonesia has planned to significantly hike cigarette prices in the near future to reduce the number of smokers, among other things.

Vice Chairman of the Peoples Consultative Assembly (MPR) Osman Sapta Odang has positively welcomed the governments plan to increase the prices of cigarettes.

"The plan to increase cigarette prices is a good strategy to restrict teenagers from getting into the habit of smoking," he noted in a written statement received here on Monday.

The MPR vice chairman believes that by raising cigarette prices, teenagers, especially from middle-class families, who want to start smoking, will think twice whether they can afford them.

According to Sapta, the policy to hike cigarette prices is expected to reduce the number of new smokers among teenagers in future.

He pointed out that the increase in cigarette prices would also impact the rising price of tobacco that can benefit farmers and improve their livelihood.

In the meantime, House of Representatives Speaker Ade Komarudin said the governments discourse to raise cigarette prices by two folds will help the state budget as it has the potential to increase state revenues.

"If the cigarette prices are raised, state revenues from the excise sector will automatically increase and help our state budget to become healthier in future," the house speaker remarked.

In addition, Komarudin stated that the governments proposal related to increasing cigarette prices would also reduce the societys consumptive behaviors towards smoking.

The politician with the Golkar Party stated that hiking the prices of cigarettes will also reduce the number of smokers in society.

Komarudin believed that the higher cigarette prices will not significantly impact the cigarette industry, including the sustainability of the tobacco farmers.

"I believe this will not affect the livelihood of the tobacco farmers as they can reap benefits of the cigarette price hike policy," he added.

The results of studies conducted by various parties indicated that active smokers would be more likely to stop smoking if the cigarette prices are increased by at least two folds the normal prices.

Earlier, Indonesian Minister for Woman Empowerment and Child Protection Yohana Yambise had expressed concern over the increase in the number of child smokers in the country.

A total of 54 percent of Indonesian children are now smokers, and thus, the minister has vowed to wean away children and women from smoking, as it could cause lung cancer, miscarriage, cervical cancer, and heart problems.

The minister urged to put in place a special rule to save people, especially women and children, from the harmful habit of cigarette smoking.

Indonesia has set in place Presidential Regulation Number 109 of 2012 that bans children from smoking, but shops continue to sell cigarettes to them.

Yambise appealed to issue a regulation necessitating cigarette buyers to present their IDs to prove they are at least 18 years of age or above.

"The regulation must be in the form of a bylaw. Sanctions must be imposed against those selling cigarettes to children," she remarked.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged governments around the world to increase taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products to save lives and generate funds for better health services.

According to the WHO, not many governments make full use of the tobacco taxes to dissuade people from smoking or help them to cut down and quit. It recommends that at least 75 percent of the price of a pack of cigarettes should be tax.

The WHO has found that one person dies from tobacco-related disease every six seconds or so, equivalent to some six million people a year.

The number is forecast to rise to more than eight million people a year by 2030 unless strong measures are taken to control what it calls a "tobacco epidemic."

There are a billion smokers worldwide, but many countries have extremely low tobacco tax rates, and some have no special tobacco taxes at all, the WHO said.

Tobacco is one of the four main risk factors behind non-communicable diseases, mostly cancers, cardiovascular and lung diseases, and diabetes.

Reporter: Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Priyambodo RH
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