Thursday, November 20, 2008

Going up in smoke: Raids begin


Rizki, 22, was about to get off a bus at the Blok M terminal, South Jakarta, when a public order officer caught him for smoking a cigarette.

The officer informed him that he had violated a bylaw on smoking in two restricted areas: public transportation and bus terminals.

“Really? I don’t even know about the bylaw,” a confused Rizki told the officer. “I often smoke on the bus because there are no written rules about not doing so.

“If you forbid me from smoking in public areas, I can do it. But if you ask me to quit smoking, well, that will be hard,” he said.

Rizki was one of dozens of commuters and bus drivers caught smoking at the bus terminal on Wednesday.

Officials from the Jakarta Environmental Management Body (BPLHD) took down each violator’s personal details as part of judicial investigation procedures, while members of antismoking NGOs, including the Indonesian Network of Women Against Tobacco and the Indonesian Consumers Foundation, lectured on the bylaw and the dangers of smoking.

That was the scene on the first day of antismoking raids conducted by the BPLHD, municipal agencies and NGOs.



The sweep, which would end on Nov. 27, targets smokers flouting the bylaw on smoking in public areas such as office buildings, medical centers, schools, places of worship, playgrounds, public transportation and shopping centers.

On Wednesday, the BPLHD ran its campaign in South Jakarta, taking in the Blok M bus terminal, Blok M Mall, the Amazone game arcade at Blok M Plaza, the Victoria office building, Pertamina Hospital, Al-Azhar high school and Al-Azhar mosque.

The bus terminal netted the most violators — 20 — followed by Blok M Mall and Al-Azhar Mosque with six smokers respectively, Pertamina Hospital with three, and no smokers spotted at either Amazone or Al-Azhar high school.

Most of those caught smoking pleaded ignorance of the bylaw.

“Never heard about it. If the administration really wants to enforce the bylaw, they should provide smoking rooms,” said Andi, a university student.

Joni Tagor, head of the South Jakarta BPLHD, said violators would not face punishment because the raids were more about raising people’s awareness of the bylaw than about enforcing it.

“We will put more ‘No Smoking’ signs around the terminal and in public transportation in a bid to raise people’s awareness,” said Joni, admitting the lack of such signs was behind the high number of violators at the terminal.

The sweep at the Victoria office building saw BPLHD officers check on the provision of ‘No Smoking’ signs and smoking rooms in the building.

Joni urged the building management to be strict in forbidding staff or visitors from smoking outside the designated areas.

Bachtiar Sonda, head of the building’s tenant association, said he supported the raids, saying it could help reduce the number of smokers.

Ria Musiawan, from the Indonesian Network of Women Against Tobacco, agreed the raids were quite effective.

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