Herman, Jakarta – The government is receiving calls left and right to get tough on electronic cigarettes, also known as vapes, which many find are equally harmful as regular cigs.
Today, there are no regulations on e-cigarettes in Indonesia, except for a 15-percent increase in the excise tax rate on liquid vape in 2023 and 2024. According to the National Commission for Tobacco Control, e-cigs and regular cigarettes are equally bad for health.
"We need to treat e-cigs and conventional cigarettes the same. [Vapes] are only legal because we already have the excise tax imposed. We can no longer ban [vape] except if we revoke the excise tax. The only way is to regulate and restrict its distribution, marketing, and consumption," the commission's program manager Nina Samidi told Jakarta Globe's sister publication Beritasatu.com in Jakarta on Monday.
"Regular cigarettes might have lackluster regulations, but at least we would have some regulations on e-cigarettes. We currently do not have any [regulations on e-cigarettes], except its excise rates," Nina said.
The Health Ministry has been intending to revise the 2012 government regulation on tobacco so it would also regulate electronic cigarettes. But the government is taking forever to revise the regulation.
"How much longer should we wait for the regulation to be revised, so we can protect our people from electronic cigarettes?" Nina said.
Yusuf Rendy Manilet, a researcher at think-tank Core Indonesia, feared that an excise tax hike on e-cigarettes would not have that much impact on smoking prevalence.
There are three scenarios that are likely to happen. First, people will stop or at least consume fewer e-cigarettes. Second, they will switch back to conventional cigarettes. Third, people, particularly those coming from the middle-to-upper class, remain unaffected by the excise tax and will continue smoking e-cigarettes. In 2021, Indonesia collected Rp 629 billion in excise taxes on e-cigarettes.
"It would be pointless if the country earns lots of money from the excise taxes, but it has to bear a bigger burden because many people fall sick because of vape," Yusuf said.
Police recently discovered a home industry producing liquid vape laced with meth in West Jakarta. House of Representatives member Irma Suryani Chaniago said that this discovery showed that "it is about time for the government to open their eyes and stop the circulation of e-cigarettes, and further analyze its benefits and harms."
Irma also urged the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) and the Anti-Narcotics Agency (BNN) to stop the distribution of liquid vaping.