More tax in the nicotine

The Indonesian government is due on January 1 to increase tobacco excise from 56 percent to 65 percent as part of moves to discourage smoking, according to a story in The Jakarta Post.

Indonesia has more than 62 million smokers who make up about 25 per cent of its population.

The Post story said that smoking lowered life expectancy by 10 years on average and reduced in six out of 10 households the amount available for spending on other items.

It said that quitting would halve the risk of heart disease within one year, while the risk of stroke would decline to that of a non-smoker within 15 years.

Quitting would translate also into an 11.9 percent increase in the amount of household income available for health plans, education and nutrition.

The World Health Organization has recommended that a cigarette excise rate of 70 percent be imposed, which, in Indonesia, would raise prices to Rp18,000 per pack.

However, according to Abdillah Ahsan, senior researcher and vice-director at the Demographic Institute of the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, the ideal price for discouraging cigarette consumption would be Rp50,000 per pack, which would still be below the prices prevailing in Singapore or Australia.