A recent survey on tobacco consumption has reported that the tobacco epidemic in Indonesia is continuing, putting people at a higher risk of smoking-related health problems.
The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS): Indonesia Report 2011 showed that the proportion of male adult smokers in Indonesia had increased to 67.4 per cent in 2011, up from 53.9 per cent in 1995.
Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi said Tuesday that tobacco consumption was the main cause of preventable illnesses and disabilities in the country.
"Looking at the results of the survey, I must say that we have failed to protect our own people from tobacco-related health risks. We have been defeated by the tobacco industry," she said at her office.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) data from 2008, Indonesia had the third-largest population of smokers in the world after India and China. The 2011 GATS survey reported that Indonesia now ranked at the top of the list of countries with the highest prevalence of active male adult smokers in the world, followed by India with 47.9 per cent, the Philippines with 47.7 per cent, Vietnam with 47.4 per cent, Thailand with 45.6 per cent and Poland with 33.5 per cent.
The GATS survey also disclosed that the percentage of passive smokers in the country had reached 85.4 per cent, with 78.4 per cent of people exposed to tobacco smoke at home and 51.3 per cent in the workplace.
The survey said that 86 per cent of active smokers were aware that smoking could trigger many diseases, including cancer and heart failure.
"Obviously, curbing the use of tobacco is the first thing we must address to protect people against illnesses, particularly non-communicable diseases," said Nafsiah.
GATS is the global standard used to systematically monitor adult tobacco consumption and track tobacco control indicators in countries around the world. In Indonesia, the GATS survey was jointly conducted by the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) and the Health Research and Development Agency (Balitbangkes) at the Health Ministry.
The WHO and the United States' Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided technical assistance during the survey, which was funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies.