Jakarta is a smoker’s paradise. With the easy access to cheap cigarettes and the lack of implementation of public smoking ban, smokers can light up almost anywhere in Jakarta.
Cigarettes are available in most supermarkets and convenience stores, carrying both local and foreign brands. Mobile carts and street vendors also sell cigarettes by the pack or by the stick to drivers caught in traffic. Cigarettes sell for as low as US$1 a pack, cheap by regional standards with taxes less than 40 percent.
Indonesia is also home to the famous kretek cigarettes. Kretek, which literally means to crackle, is a type of cigarette containing tobacco and cloves that makes cracking sounds when burned. Although it contains four times the concentration of tar and nicotine than ordinary cigarettes, kretek cigarettes are still preferred by the majority of Indonesian smokers.
Bans on smoking in public places in Jakarta have yet to be implemented by the government. It is quite common to see smoking allowed inside government and private offices, restaurants, bars, low-end malls and non-airconditioned buses and trains.
Sixty three percent of Indonesian men and five percent of Indonesian women are reported to be smokers. Smoking-related illnesses kill at least 200,000 annually in Indonesia, which has a population of nearly 240 million.