Building a Cigarette Tower in Indonesia

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Indonesia-a country where two third of adult male are smokers including this kid.

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Now you might still remember him. Apparently, we live in the same city, Palembang.  That kid, who was 2 years old in 2010, used to smoke 40 cigarettes a day. If you stack all of his daily cigarettes, that’s a 4 meter long cigarette.

The average size of a cigarette is 10 cm. The overall length is about 7 cm due to a filter that is attached on one end of the cigarette. So if you smoke 20 cigarettes a day, that’s 7,300 cigarettes a year. That would be more than a half km tall if you were building a cigarette tower in just one year. In fact, no one ever says, ‘’I think I will start smoking today and stop exactly on this day next year” That’s not going to happen. You’ll get addicted and smoke for years, probably until you die.

Last year, 315 billion cigarettes were produced by all the tobacco companies combined in Indonesia[1]. If you stack and stack the cigarettes one by one and eventually you reach the Moon.

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Unfortunately, you have used only 3.8 billion cigarettes at this point and 311.2 billion cigarettes or 93% still left to be stacked. By the time you finally finish, the cigarette tower is 31.5 million km high which makes it almost a half way to Mars. Just in two years, the Indonesian tobacco companies could build a cigarette bridge to Mars.[2]

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 Ah that’s ridiculous. I’m just talking about one country. What if China and India and all the countries on earth combined, how high do you think the Cigarette Tower we could build? I can’t imagine! Who knows we could reach Jupiter. By “we”, I mean humans. If we humans don’t buy their cigarettes, the companies will stop and maybe they’ll try other businesses that will still kill you because they have invented e-cigarette.

Charly Pairaud, deputy director of Vincent dans les Vapes e-liquids maker, demonstrates the use of an electronic cigarette in his factory in Pessac near Bordeaux

 So keep smoking!! They’ll kill you anyway! LOL

Animals don’t kill themselves by smoking, except this

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Now you know why they’re so freaking rich!

That’s only last year, OK. The tobacco companies have been around here in Indonesia even long before the Independence Day. Sampoerna for example, has been around since 1913. That’s one year after Titanic sank.

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By the way, speaking of the viral kid who used to smoke 40 cigarettes a day, his favourite brand of cigarette was A-Mild

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which is owned by Philip Morris International, the American company that sells Philip Morris Brand everywhere in the world but America. It’s funny, right? An American company but doesn’t operate in America.

But they’re very smart. To make us happy, they sponsor concerts, sporting events, give scholarships to students, sponsor education institutions and even build their own university. There’s even a library at my university sponsored by Sampoerna or Philip Morris International called Sampoerna Corner. And they’re many other Sampoerna Corner(s). Everybody seems to be happy!

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According to Indonesia National Agency of Drug and Food Control, there’re 199 kinds of cigarette products marketed in Indonesia by 51 tobacco companies in 2014[3]. Yeah, as you have probably guessed by now, I can’t believe the number in 2016!

Now, let’s talk about the regulations.

Indonesia is one of the few nations in the world and the only one is Asia that doesn’t ratify the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

That’s why there are few restrictions. You can even find a kiosk that sells cigarettes near a school that students can buy per piece. They also provide a lighter hanged on a string in the kiosk. So students can go there and smoke after school, and sometimes during school.

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That’s why you see their ads everywhere on the streets and on TV commercials from 9:30 pm until 5:00 am and maybe in your bedroom. They know you like their inspirational quotes and posters.

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Actually, on the surface, Indonesia is trying to limit how tobacco companies are able to behave.

First, we put warning labels on packaging.

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In English: “Smoking can cause cancer, heart attack, impotency and pregnancy and fetal disorders”

Written warning sounds great but Indonesians CAN’T even understand something like this.

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Now, we’ve put disgusting images on packaging:

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At first, it might have been horrifying, but now everybody’s getting used to it.

It does not help to lower smoking rate in Indonesia. In fact, this is what’s happening.

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Wait, there’s even more, the government is planning to double cigarette production to 524.2 billion cigarettes per year by 2020.[4]

Let’s break down what’s really going on;

Indonesia wants to warn its citizens about the negative health effects of smoking.

Tobacco companies want to be able to present their stupid inspirational commercial slogans and make profits.

The problem is 5% of the government revenues come from the cigarette tax and customs.[5]

In 2015, the Government Revenues was 1,508,020.4 IDR Billion.[6] Yes, I know what you’re thinking. More than 75.4 IDR trillion came from tobacco companies. That’s a lot of money.

Suppose a 100,000 IDR bill is 0.01cm thick.

10,000,000 IDR makes 1cm stack.

1 billion rupiahs makes one meter.

1 trillion rupiahs is 1km-high stack.

So, 75.4 trillion rupiah makes a 75.4kilometer-high stake.

What if we use 50,000 rupiah bills? It will make it double, 150.8kilometer-high stake.

Now try to use 1,000 rupiah bill. You might be laughing now, but it will make a 7,540km high-stake. That’s about 1/50 way to the Moon or about the distance from Palembang, Indonesia to Mecca.

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Indonesia’s media institutions make a lot of revenue from cigarette commercials. Most of the big media are owned by politicians who are also businessmen.

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That’s why they rarely uncover the truth behind tobacco companies (I’ve never even heard any) and that’s also why you see this ad very often on TV.

Marilah seluruh rakyat indonesia

Arahkan pandanganmu ke depan

Raihlah mimpimu bagi nusa bangsa

Satukan tekadmu tuk masa depan….

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Please stop singing it in your head! Even my neighbour’s 4 year-old kid remembers the whole song and lyrics. Unfortunately, he can’t remember Indonesia’s anthem.

Now, we’re talking about smoking but what about the smokers, the main victim?

Well, they don’t give a damn! As long as they have a cigarette between their pointed finger and their middle finger, life is still going on and well.

Even if the tobacco companies are closed, they can still make their own cigarettes. That’s the reason they smoke, to be creative. At least that’s what they say.

OK OK. Now, let’s talk about you, smokers specifically because the biggest impact is actually on you!

Look at this data!

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Treatment4addiction[7] has calculated, smoking a cigarette could end up costing 14 minutes of life.[8] An average smoker takes only 7 minutes to smoke a cigarette. In other words, it takes you 7 minutes to lose 14 minutes of your life. And that’s hilarious because you also worked to buy the cigarette. It’s like you buy a baby lion and you take care of it until it finally kills you.

That means if you regularly smoke 20 cigarettes a day, you lose more than 4 and a half hours of your life and can shave 10 years off your life expectancy if you don’t stop now.

I know you will smartly say “we’re all going to die anyway”

You’re right but I’d rather die in a peaceful way than suffer from lung cancer!

To tobacco companies in Indonesia, Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco or whatever you are. I know if we ratify Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, make strict regulations, or cover the whole packaging with disgusting images like Australia to limit or even to abolish you from this country, you’ll end up suing us like what you (Philip Morris International) did to Australia, Norway, Uruguay and even to Togo-a country whose entire GDP is $4.3 Billion (2013) which is nothing compared to your $80 Billion Net Revenue in 2013.

We, Indonesia might lose the case because you have bright lawyers. And we might also lose 5% of the Government Revenue that we obtain from your existence if you leave. But what you have done to Indonesian kids is, I think, unforgivable.

To Indonesian government, please guys, what are you doing? Doubling tobacco production? Really? What the f*** does that mean? Shame on you! Take some time to watch the 2-year old smoking kid!

[1] http://duniaindustri.com/downloads/data-dan-outlook-industri-rokok-2005-2016/

[2] If Earth and Mars approach each other at its closest point which is only 54.6 Km apart

[3] http://www.pom.go.id/files/2014/update20agus14.pdf

[4] http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/06/01/indonesia-on-track-to-worlds-highest-smoking-rates.html

[5]http://www.indonesia-investments.com/news/todays-headlines/why-indonesia-doesn-t-ratify-who-s-framework-convention-on-tobacco-control/item6932?

[6] http://www.tradingeconomics.com/indonesia/government-revenues

[7] http://www.treatment4addiction.com/

[8] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/technology-science/technology/how-much-life-you-lose-4437754

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