Kretek community fears for heritage

    Komunitas Kretek, Indonesia’s clove cigarette community, has rejected any call for ratifying the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), reports The Jakarta Post. The organization’s representatives cautioned Indonesia would lose its cultural heritage if the government ratifies the treaty.

    “Indonesia has its tobacco product called kretek, which has its own uniqueness with a blend of tobacco and clove,” said Alfa Gumilang, general secretary of Komunitas Kretek. “Ratifying the convention means that the government would deny its own cultural heritage.”

    Earlier on Thursday, the National Coalition of Civil Society for Tobacco Control called on President Joko Widodo to ratify the convention as a strategic step and argued that it was in the best interest of the nation. “WHO FCTC ratification would be of benefit to Indonesia’s future,” said Ifdhal Kasim, a coordinator of the coalition.

    The convention contains several provisions regarding smoke-free areas, packaging and labeling, pricing and taxing, and prohibition of advertising and promotions, including through sponsorship.

    Alfa warned that the WHO FCTC also regulated the standardization of all tobacco products, including its ingredients and level of tar and nicotine.

    “One of the articles in the convention urges the government to implement tobacco diversification plans, which could damage the economic well-being of tobacco farmers across the country,” he was quoted as saying.

    “Modifying agricultural traditions is also not easy, as it has existed for hundreds of years. Besides, it would affect farmers’ market access,” Alfa said.