Indonesia: Jakarta Governor criticised for allowing tobacco expo

10 April 2016

Health advocates handed over a petition of 12,000 signatures collected on to the Jakarta Governor’s office on 7 April calling for the cancellation of the WTA tobacco expo renamed as “Process & Machinery” Exhibition to be held in Jakarta 27-28 April. Advocates comprised students from the Faculty of Public Health, University of Indonesia.

However the Jakarta Governor rejected the students’ demand according to a news report, telling reporters that “more people got cancer from food laced with formaldehyde than smoking. This is indeed surprising as Governor Basuki is noted for his firm stand against smoking and for making Jakarta smoke-free.

It was reported the Governor became defensive when an Al-Jazeera journalist asked why he allowed the exhibition to be staged in the Indonesian capital when other countries had refused. Governor Basuki said an exhibition on tobacco machinery “will not have a direct impact to the number of smokers,” a remark which tobacco control advocates dismissed.

Bernadette Fellarika, coordinator of Smoke Free Jakarta said, “If anything [the exhibition] will help companies become less reliant on workers who hand roll cigarettes. [The exhibition] will help companies produce cigarettes faster and in much larger quantity because [machines] can operate non-stop, 24 hours a day,” she said.

Fellarika noted that Basuki has rejected a similar WTA exhibition 2014, adding that he should remain consistent in his anti-tobacco drive.

According to Fellarika, by allowing the exhibition to continue the governor risks undoing all of the progress the city has made in tobacco control. Jakarta is the first city in Indonesia to introduce a strict bylaw banning smoking in public spaces. Recently it also banned all outdoor tobacco advertisements such as billboards, banners and posters.

Indeed Jakarta will be regressing in its position on rejecting a previous WTA tobacco exhibition. It is in the hands of the Governor whether the tobacco event will proceed or not. You can add your signature to the petition on; Visit:

For write-ups on cancellation of previous WTA exhibition see here and here.

Previous ASEAN Tobacco Watch updates can be found here