Despite the country still having some of the laxest tobacco regulations in the world, many Indonesian cities have at least made progress in implementing bans on smoking in public places such as shopping centers over the last decade.
But, if a recent survey of smoking violations at Jakarta's shopping malls and traditional markets is accurate, the capital still has a long way to go in effectively enforcing no-smoking zones.
The survey was done by an advocacy group called the Jakarta Citizen Forum (FAKTA), who monitored 15 malls and 13 traditional markets in Jakarta from June 17-19. They said they found people smoking inside 60% percent of the malls and 93% the markets they surveyed (they didn't mention which was the one market that was actually smoke-free).
FAKTA also found that only 73% of the shopping centers that they surveyed had installed the legally required no smoking signs around their premises.
At a press conference yesterday, FAKTA representatives said they had actually submitted lawsuits against two of the worst violators of the anti-smoking regulations, Cilandak Town Square (Citos) in South Jakarta and ITC Cempaka Mas in Central Jakarta, for endangering public health.
In the case of Citos, FAKTA chairman Azas Tigor Nainggolan said that they had already settled the lawsuit with a promise from Citos management that they would properly enforce the smoking ban in the future.
Azas said that many shopping center tenants were stubborn about violating the smoking ban, illustrating that with an anecdote about one tenant at ITC Cempaka Mas who refused to stop smoking by saying "Rules are made to be broken".
Smoking inside of malls and traditional markets in Jakarta was only officially banned with the passage of a Gubernatorial Regulation in 2010. The regulation also requires shopping centers to build specialized indoor smoking rooms similar to those found in airports, though FAKTA found that very few have done so.
In addition to trying to put a stop to indoor smoking, FAKTA also filed a lawsuit in early July against the government over the toxic levels of air pollution that regularly blanket the capital. Parties named in the lawsuit include President Joko Widodo, as well as the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Ministry of Health, and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan. The lawsuit seeks to raise awareness about the air pollution issue and force the government to take action to reduce it.