The Republic of Indonesia is in Southeast Asia, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. Sharing land borders with Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste, it comprises more than 17,000 islands and has a population of 261m, making it the world’s fourth largest country by population. Though officially a secular state, it has a Muslim majority, with more Muslims than any other country.
The official language is Indonesian, though Javanese is also widely spoken. There are in all more than 700 languages among 300 distinct ethnic groups, the largest of which are the Javanese (40.2% of the total population), Sundanese, Batak and Madurese. An influential minority group are the ethnic Chinese, who control a large share of the economy.
Since economic liberalisation in the late 1990s, the country has seen strong economic growth and a steady increase in the standard of living. Indonesia’s currency is the rupiah (IDR1=€0.000062, $0.000070).
Nowadays considered democratic, Indonesia has been through periods of dictatorship since gaining independence from the Netherlands in 1949. It is a heavily centralised state, with policy on vaping and smoking implemented from the capital, Jakarta, a city of 10m people. Since no political party has won an overall majority of seats in the two legislative elections since the New Order regime fell just before the turn of the century, the country has been ruled by coalition governments.
Indonesia is one of the few nations that has not signed nor ratified the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which urges strict limits on the production, sale, distribution, taxation and advertising of tobacco products. This is highly unusual in the developing world, where the WHO and FCTC are generally very influential. So, while there is anti-e-cig sentiment in high places in Indonesia, policy-making is unlikely to be swayed by the negative attitude of the WHO.
Tobacco farming is a major industry in Indonesia and the national budget relies heavily on tobacco taxes.
The country has the highest male smoking rates in the world. There are approximately 57m smokers in Indonesia, 62.9% of men and 4.8% of women being smokers, a total of 34% of the population, according to the nationwide 2018 Basic Health survey.
The WHO ranked Indonesia the third-largest smoking population in the world. According to the Association of Personal Vaporizer Indonesia (APVI), Indonesia has around 1.5m e-cigarette users, most of them aged 25 or above.