Kretek - the Indonesian cigarette of choiceIndonesian smokers tend to favor the local kretek cigarettes. Kretek is a clove cigarette that consists of tobacco, ground clove buds, clove oil as well as other spices such as cumin, cinnamon, or nutmeg. Saccharin is then added to the kretek cigarette wrapping paper to give it a sweet taste. In 2017, machine made kretek had a share of around 75 percent of the Indonesian tobacco market, compared to the five percent for white cigarettes. Kretek cigarettes are, however, more harmful than regular cigarettes due to a higher percentage of tar and nicotine - the average kretek cigarette has 56 milligrams of tar and 2.8 milligrams of nicotine.
Indonesia is a producer of tobacco. In 2018, approximately 180 thousand metric tons of tobacco were produced in Indonesia. In that same year, Indonesia imported tobacco from other major producers to fulfil the tobacco industry's need.
Smoking - a habit that is here to stay?The Indonesian government had always been supportive of the kretek industry and were slow to implement a functioning system of tobacco control and consumer protection. This was mainly due to the economic importance of its tobacco industry. In 2018, Indonesia's tax revenue from tobacco excise was around 160 billion Indonesian rupiah.
However, in the last decade there had been some attempts to restrain smoking, such as an increase in government funding for medical research on the health impacts of smoking. The Indonesian government had also been raising the taxes on tobacco products for almost every year since 2014. However, this had not shown a significant reduction on smoking rates. A survey on the daily cigarette consumption in Indonesia found that 32 percent of respondents claimed to smoke between ten to 15 cigarettes a day, while ten percent said that they smoked more than 20 cigarettes per day. While cigarette smoking is decreasing all over the world, Indonesia seemed to be bucking the trend.