Press Release

WHO calls for bold, decisive legislative action to protect young people from tobacco industry interference

05 June 2024


Jakarta, 31 May 2024 – On World No Tobacco Day 2024, the World Health Organization (WHO) is urgently calling on legislators and policy makers in Indonesia to protect young people from tobacco industry interference amid a series of key legislative developments that have the potential to safeguard the health not just of the current generation of young Indonesians but every generation to come. 

Globally, tobacco kills more than 8 million people every year, including an estimated 1.3 million non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke. Indonesia has one of the highest rates of tobacco use anywhere in the world, with a staggering 35.4% of adult Indonesians using tobacco, equal to more than 70 million people. 

Whereas the global prevalence of tobacco use among people aged 15 years and older is declining, from 26.4% in 2010 to a projected 18.1% in 2030, Indonesia is one of only six countries globally where it is projected to increase, from 33.2% in 2010 to 38.7% by 2030. This is reflected in Indonesia’s latest Global School-based Student Health Survey, which shows that tobacco use among youth aged 13–17 years increased from 13.6% in 2015 to 23% in 2023, meaning that more than 1 in 5 youth now use some form of tobacco product. 

Alarmingly, tobacco companies are also seeking to addict young people to harmful novel and emerging nicotine and tobacco products (NENTPs), such as e-cigarettes, using a series of underhanded methods, not least youth-targeted advertising, youth-targeted sponsorship and youth-targeted flavourings. 

Studies demonstrate that e-cigarette use increases conventional cigarette use, particularly among non-smoking youth, by nearly three times. Between 2011 and 2021, the use of NENTPs among Indonesians aged 15 years and above increased by 10 times, to 3% of the population. As of 2023, 12.6% of students aged 13–17 years are reported to use e-cigarettes – a rate significantly higher than the adult population.   

Today, Indonesia ranks 87 out of 90 countries in the Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index, indicating a high level of industry interference in policy development. It is one of just 12 WHO Member States that are yet to become Parties to the WHO Global Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which empowers governments to resist tobacco industry interference. 

However, with the passage last year of Indonesia’s groundbreaking Omnibus Health Law and amendments to the Broadcasting Law currently underway, legislators and policy makers have a historic opportunity to protect young people from tobacco industry interference and accelerate Indonesia’s overall health, social and economic development.   

“Today, Indonesia is at a critical juncture in its health and development journey, especially when it comes to controlling tobacco and NENTPs and limiting the devasting health, social and economic impact they have,” said Dr N. Paranietharan, WHO Representative to Indonesia. “For the health and well-being not just of the current generation of young Indonesians but every generation to come, legislators and policy makers must take bold, decisive legislative action.”

Of specific focus must be ensuring that implementing legislation for the Omnibus Health Law bans tobacco and NENTP advertising, promotion and sponsorship not just on social media but the whole of the internet, in alignment with WHO MPOWER measures, a series of evidence-based interventions proven to reduce demand for tobacco products. 

This should be accompanied by a ban on tobacco and NENTP advertising on billboards and in public areas, and on tobacco and NENTP advertising, promotion and sponsorship more broadly, especially at youth-focused events, such as for sports, music and the arts, in alignment with global standards. 

Second, legislators should complement their proposed ban on the sale of tobacco products and NENTPs to those below 21 years of age by also banning the sale of so-called “kiddy packs” of cigarettes – i.e. those containing less than 20 cigarettes. This will make cigarettes less affordable for young people and should be accompanied by a ban on the use of flavourings in NENTPs, making them significantly less attractive. 

Next, in the draft national Broadcasting Bill, legislators should impose a complete and total blackout on tobacco and NENTP advertising, promotion and sponsorship across all broadcast formats. This will make a significant dent in the exposure not just of young people but all Indonesians to traditional tobacco and NENTP advertising in media, which will help de-normalize smoking and vaping behaviours.

Finally, legislators should develop and implement a uniform excise structure for all tobacco products and NENTPs, and also abolish the current excise cap of 57% of the retail price. Both actions will enable legislators to more easily increase taxation to 75% or more of the retail price – another MPOWER best practice. 

At this critical juncture, WHO will continue to support Indonesia to turn what is a generational threat into a generational opportunity, accelerating the country’s health, social and economic development today, and in the years and decades ahead. 


Bunga Manggiasih

Communication Officer

Siska Widyawati

National Information Officer

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World Health Organization

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