Table 4

Support for tobacco control initiatives among key ministries: key indicative quotations (translated from Indonesian)

MinistryKey quotations
  • “The Ministry of Health did change the plain packaging [regulations] a few years ago, but since then there haven’t been many changes. But it’s difficult for them. There are a lot of issues to focus on and without a directive from [the President] and if the Minister isn’t making it a priority, I don’t think much will change.” (Respondent 1, academic)

  • “To be honest, we’re disappointed with her [the Minister for Health]. We’re actually going to send a dirty ashtray award to her to show her that she needs to do more.” (Respondent 3, tobacco control advocate)

  • “One of the reasons we have to work so hard is that the government isn’t doing enough. There hasn’t been much progress in the last few years. If the Ministry of Health made this a priority that would be excellent. But as it is, we haven’t seen as much progress as we would like.” (Respondent 7, tobacco control advocate)

  • “The Ministry are interesting… We have tried several times to get a meeting with them [about tax and excise increases for cigarettes], but it’s always difficult. But they meet with people from the [tobacco] industry. We know they’ve met with them, but they don’t share the outcomes of those meetings with us.” (Respondent 5, tobacco control advocate)

  • “We managed to organise a meeting with some representatives from the Ministry (in 2019), and when we showed up, we saw they also invited people from tobacco companies. We were shocked to see them. It was extremely uncomfortable… it felt like they just invited them there to argue with us about why tobacco taxes should not go up. I didn’t really know what to do. How were we supposed to talk openly about policy and our concerns with those people in the same room?” (Respondent 5, tobacco control advocate)

Trade and Industry
  • “The tobacco industry in Indonesia is extraordinarily strong… I think that the Ministry of Industry wants to help them, make sure they stay successful. It won’t be good if a big industry in Indonesia suffers.” (Respondent 4, academic)

  • “It would be very bad for the Ministry if the tobacco industry went under. I don’t know if [people in the Ministry] support smoking, but they definitely support the industry.” (Respondent 6, academic)

Information and Communication
  • “It feels like we always have to remind the Ministry about their job. We report violations [of advertising regulations] and sometimes they respond, sometimes they don’t.” (Respondent 2, tobacco control advocate)

  • “I saw some great news (in 2019), the Ministry… is going to do something about online advertising. I saw it in the news, the Minister agreed. But the truth is, they should have been monitoring the internet [for portrayals of smoking and advertising] … I don’t think they would have done anything if there wasn’t so much public attention on the issue.” (Respondent 5, tobacco control advocate)

  • “The Ministry are crucial for us… for protecting children [from cigarette advertising], I get so angry when I see [cigarette] advertisements on TV or those big billboards. They need to do something about it, but it’s just too normal.” (Respondent 6, tobacco control advocate).