Officials in Indonesia, a country with one of the highest smoking rates in the world, are moving forward with onerous laws on electronic cigarettes that will effectively kill the industry.
Indonesia’s Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita rankled public health advocates last week when he told former smokers in the country who use a vapor product to just “become regular smokers.” The forthcoming regulatory crackdown on e-cigarettes requires retailers to acquire a number of special government licenses to legally sell vapor products, reports The Washington Post.
Vendors say the process will likely take years and sets up the industry to fail.
“These are standards we’ll never be able to meet,” Rhomedal, a spokesperson for Indonesia’s Personal Vaporizer Association, told WaPo. “It will really hurt both small businesses and consumers in our sector.”
Roughly 60 percent of males in the country smoke cigarettes, the highest rate in the world, as do more than 5 million children. More than 200,000 people die from smoking related illnesses each year in Indonesia. Experts say big tobacco companies in the region have a hold on government officials. (RELATED: Tourists Vaping In Thailand Risk Being Tossed In Prison For 10 Years)
Indonesia is the only country in the region that has never ratified the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
“The big companies have convinced the government they are important for local [tobacco] farmers and for tax revenues,” Mark Hurley, communications director at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told WaPo. “But in reality, the costs of treating diseases caused by tobacco far outweigh any economic benefits.”
Public health experts focused on harm reduction say that onerous restrictions on electronic cigarettes undermine public health by removing safer alternatives from the marketplace.
They note that vaping largely eliminates the harms from conventional cigarettes because 95 percent of the carcinogens that cause tobacco-related illnesses are released through combustion. E-cigarettes simply heat liquid nicotine, creating an aerosol vapor.
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