Indonesia reportedly preparing total ban on sales and imports

Indonesia volcano - NeilsPhotography 300x180Indonesia appears set to give teeth to its long-standing antipathy toward e-cigarettes with a new ban on sales and imports.

The Ministry of Trade is currently finalising a regulation, minister Rachmat Gobel was quoted as saying by local media.

It will follow a lengthy series of official comments, dating back years and gaining ground in recent months, casting doubt on the products’ safety.

“It has been deemed that e-cigarettes pose health risks and that’s why we need to impose a ban,” Gobel said.

The prohibition is understood to be supported by the health ministry and the National Agency of Drug and Food Control (BPOM), whose head Roy Sparringa cited the lack of controls on nicotine content and the risk of addiction among its concerns.

Indonesia’s population of around 250m forms a major tobacco market, where minimal tobacco control – it is not a signatory to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) – is coupled with widespread smoking. Prevalence of 67% among males, according to World Bank figures for 2011, gives Indonesia by some distance the highest figure for a large nation.

What This Means: The significance of any blanket ban by Indonesia would not so much be the loss of that market (large as it is) to foreign e-cigarette companies, but as a confirmation that in developing countries, high levels of smoking and token or poorly-enforced tobacco control do not necessarily translate into tolerance for e-cigarettes.

We are already seeing signs of that in China and (especially) India; Indonesia fits the pattern.

– Barnaby Page ECigIntelligence staff

Photo: NeilsPhotography

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