tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

tocacco Cigarettes are smoking products consumed by people and made out of cut tobacco leaves. Cigars are typically composed completely of whole-leaf tobacco. A cigarette has smaller size, composed of processed leaf, and white paper wrapping. The term cigarette refers to a tobacco cigarette too but it can apply to similar devices containing other herbs, such as cannabis.
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New Indonesian Tobacco Regulation

Jakarta. As soon as she sat down for the intragovernmental meeting at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights in late February, Lisda Indonesian CigarettesSundari, an office manager for the National Commission for Child Protection, felt that something strange was in the air.

The meeting on Feb. 23 was called to initiate discussion about a draft regulation to control tobacco products, but not long after it started, suddenly all went quiet.

A group of 20 tobacco farmers with the Indonesian Tobacco Alliance (Amti) barged into the meeting room and insisted on giving a theatrical performance to point out that tobacco and smoking were national treasures and part of Indonesian culture.

That same day, Kompas ran a huge advertisement paid for by the alliance, in which they demanded to be involved in the drafting of new government regulations on tobacco.

“What we want to show are our concerns. This peaceful performance is driven by our concern about future government regulations that will destroy the nation,” one of the Amti representatives told the meeting.

Before anyone in the room could stop them, eight Amti members began performing a drama about Roro Mendut — a beautiful, sensual woman from Javanese folklore who sold cigarettes she had already lit in order to pay taxes to a local ruler who was trying to woo her.

“They dressed in traditional Javanese clothes; they even had a drum for music,” Lisda told the Jakarta Globe last month.

One performer, who was playing Roro Mendut, then handed tobacco plants to the government officials, saying they were meant to symbolize the alliance putting its fate in their hands.

After the performance ended, the uninvited pro-tobacco group shouted: “Long live the farmers!”

Agung Suryanto, Amti’s deputy secretary general, said the performers interrupted the meeting only to deliver a message from the people.

But Lisda believed otherwise. “I think it was like a threat to the government from the group,” she said. “They were not even invited to the meeting, and yet they were given the first chance to speak even before all the government officials.”

Delayed Regulation

The Feb. 23 meeting aimed to coordinate the language to be used in the draft regulation on tobacco products.

The regulation is mandated in Article 116 of the 2009 Health Law passed in October last year.

Article 202 of the same law stated the ministry had one year after its passage to issue the regulation.

There were officials from several ministries at the meeting, including the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Women’s Empowerment, Ministry of Trade and Ministry of Industry.

Budi Sampurno, head of legal affairs at the Ministry of Health, said the government had made the new tobacco regulation one of its priority goals for its first 100 days in office, and came to the meeting with a completed draft of the regulation.

However, the ministry has missed both the 100-day target, which came at the end of January, and the one-year deadline, with officials claiming they were too busy working on other draft regulations — an excuse that has angered antitobacco activists.

Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih recently said that some points from the draft, including a total ban on tobacco advertising, pictorial warnings on cigarette packets and an expansion of smoke-free areas, were still being discussed by the various ministries.

Endang said she was still hopeful the draft would be finalized by the end of the year. “There are some points that we haven’t agreed on yet,” she said.

Speaking on Oct. 22 at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, Endang acknowledged the draft required a lot of discussion. “It must be understood there are a lot of interests at stake,” she said.

“That’s why we need to proceed wisely in drafting this regulation. What’s important is that we’re consistent and make steady progress.”

Dealing a Blow to Tobacco

There are several major points in the ministry’s draft regulation which, when issued, would deal the biggest blow the local tobacco industry has ever received.

First, tobacco products would be required to display information about their levels of tar.

Second, tobacco companies would be restricted in what substances they could put in their products.

Third, cigarette vending machines would be banned, as would selling cigarettes or tobacco to pregnant women and children. The selling of individual cigarettes would also be prohibited.

Fourth, tobacco advertising, promotional activities and sponsorship would be banned, and graphic health warnings would have to be displayed on cigarette packets and words such as “mild” or “light,” which could mislead people into thinking the products were less harmful, removed.

Fifth, more smoke-free areas would be set up, including a total ban on smoking in public and indoor areas, including health centers, schools, playgrounds, places of worship, on public transportation and in office buildings.

Stiff Resistance

It is not surprising, therefore, that opposition to the draft regulation has been strong. Unofficial minutes of the Feb. 23 meeting show why: Officials from several ministries in attendance lambasted the draft, questioning why it was made public and given to nongovernmental organizations.

“Why are we only declaring tobacco as an addictive substance? Why doesn’t the Health Law give a more detailed explanation?” asked Unggul Ametung, who was head of plant diversity at the Agriculture Ministry at that time.

“Because coffee, chocolate, and even rice are addictive substances. Addictive substances are those that cause addiction, right?”

He has argued that if tobacco is declared as dangerous as hard drugs, it would require a prison sentence of at least five years, “and so, farmers are going to face that problem, not us.”

Speaking to the Globe on Monday, Unggul again insisted that the government should provide a detailed definition of the word “addictive,” still arguing that other plants, including coffee, were addictive to some people.

Officials from the Manpower Ministry have also been critical, arguing that the tobacco industry employs nearly one million people, and workers ranging from tobacco company executives to street vendors relied on selling cigarettes for their livelihoods.

In late October, Manpower Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said his ministry would “play hardball” in the ongoing deliberations over the tobacco regulation in order to protect the interests of tobacco farmers.

“Whatever is going on with the debate, we just want to defend farmers and tobacco company employees,” he said.

Senior health official Budi Sampurno declined to comment when asked whether changes would be made to the draft regulation.

“Our deadline is: ‘as soon as possible,’  ” he said. “The law doesn’t say anything about sanctions if we miss the deadline.”

By Anita Rachman

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