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No smoking, please JAKARTA - Finally, the 2005 Jakarta gubernatorial decree banning smoking in public places has been implemented, after a two-month delay. The decree, an auxiliary regulation to the 2005 bylaw on air pollution control, is expected to end any arguments about people's right to breathe clean air.

The city administration appears to be serious about implementing the decree. The deployment of 4,000 antismoking task force members Thursday to inspect buildings and ticket those violating the regulation was a clear demonstration of the administration's seriousness about the antismoking drive.

Despite the grace period given to building owners to comply with the different points in the bylaw, the first day of its implementation found several buildings, including the Transportation Ministry on Jl. Merdeka Barat, were unprepared for the clean-air campaign. A ministry spokesman said the office had yet to allocate the funds to set up a special smoking room, equipped with ashtrays and separate exhaust fans. For the time being, smokers at the ministry are forced to use emergency stairwells to indulge their habit.

Bank Internasional Indonesia (BII) Plaza on Jl. Thamrin has also failed to establish a separate smoking room. A spokesman said the management of the building had decided to make BII Plaza a total nonsmoking area, and that anyone who wished to light up would have to do so outside the building.

Under Article 13 of the bylaw on air pollution control, schools, including universities, places of worship, hospitals, any areas functioning as health centers, areas where children gather and public transportation vehicles are now nonsmoking areas. Anyone found smoking in these areas will be subject to a six-month jail sentence or a Rp 50 million fine. Government and private office buildings, hotels, restaurants, malls and other public places are obliged to provide separate smoking rooms.

With the implementation of the decree, the antismoking task force is authorized to ticket violators. Anyone found violating the decree will be required to hand over their ID card to the task force, and they will later be summoned for legal proceedings. The antismoking campaign deserves the support of all residents. Nonsmokers should no longer be forced to breathe in second-hand smoke, which research has determined to be as dangerous as active or primary smoking.

Breaking the smoking habit is difficult, and must begin with the individual acknowledgement that smoking is dangerous. A smoker's willingness to quit can also receive a boost with a strongly worded warning from a personal physician about the life-threatening health effects of smoking. Still, despite the warnings and consequences, some people remain proud smokers, even challenging the medical evidence regarding the dangers of their habit.

And, sadly, smoking is a habit shared by far too many Indonesians. A Jakarta-based newspaper reported Indonesia ranked the fifth in the world in terms of cigarette consumption. Smoking also contributes to air pollution in Jakarta, which ranks third after Bangkok and Mexico City for the dirtiest air. Hopefully, the antismoking drive in Jakarta will spur other cities and provinces to introduce their own smoking bans.

Everyone, including non-governmental organizations, is expected to get behind the campaign. It is particularly imperative that teachers and parents join the drive. Pelita Ilmu Foundation has revealed that around three million teenagers in the country are smokers, 20 percent of whom are junior high school students.

It is time for parents to play a more active role in keeping their children away from cigarettes. But for this to happen, many parents must first give up their own smoking habits. It is particularly distressing to see that some parents who cannot afford to pay school or medical fees for their children, still find the money for cigarettes. Parents must quit smoking and let their children know that this dangerous habit will bring nothing to their lives but illness.



Posted in Culture @ 08 April 2006 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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