Interfaith religious leaders have agreed to declare cigarettes haram (religiously unlawful) and want the government to increase the prices of cigarettes as a control measure against the substance.
“Smoking endangers oneself and endangers others and the spending in cigarettes is an act of mubazir (wastefulness) that is against the teaching of religion,” Indonesian Ulema Council Secretary Anwar Abbas said on Tuesday, Aug. 29, as quoted by Tempo.co.
The interfaith leaders sat together on Tuesday to discuss the price of cigarette and poverty. The discussion was also attended by Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) board member pastor Bambang Wijaya, Indonesian Parisada Hindu Council representative I Gede Ngurah Utama, Catholic clergy and social observer Benny Susetyo, as well as Ahmad Dahlan School of Economics Head Mukaher Pakkana.
In the discussion, I Gede Ngurah Utama said that smoking also contradicts the Hindu teaching which does not allow a person to intoxicate their body.
Benny Susetyo said the government needs to issue a regulation which refers to the international price of cigarette in setting the domestic price of cigarettes.
“It cannot be denied that Indonesia’s price of cigarette is the cheapest in the world and so it can be bought by children and poor families,” he said.
Bambang Wijaya said that the government also needs to regulate the age restrictions for cigarette buyer and smokers. He also suggested that the excise tax on cigarettes be used to develop alternative sources of income for tobacco farmers and labor workers in the industry.
University of Indonesia Public Health Professor Habullah Thabrany said the cheap price of cigarettes has proven to be a poverty trap for Indonesia’s poor. In Indonesia, cigarettes is the second biggest household expense among the country’s lower income group.
Featured Image by John Silver