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 Muhammadiyah Bans Smoking

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BerichtOnderwerp: Muhammadiyah Bans Smoking   Muhammadiyah Bans Smoking Icon_minitimema 14 nov 2011 - 0:33

November 14, 2011

The country’s second-largest Islamic group has thrown its full weight behind efforts to rid Indonesia of its heavy smoking habit.

After issuing a fatwa in March 2010 to tell its tens of millions of followers that it was religiously unacceptable to light up, Muhammadiyah is now set to declare all of its health and education institutions smoke-free zones.

Muhammadiyah operates some 500 health institutions such as hospitals and clinics, about 15,000 schools from the level of kindergarten to high school and nearly 200 higher education institutions. It also operates 350 orphanages across the country.

“On Monday [today], we are going to launch our nationwide program that, starting now, Muhammadiyah’s offices, enterprises and forums are officially smoke-free areas,” Syafiq A. Mughni, Muhammadiyah’s chairman for health issues, told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday. The campaign will kick off at the Muhammadiyah headquarters in Jakarta.

“This is also meant to protect the young generation from cigarette smoke exposure and to create a healthy living environment,” Syafiq said.

He added that the campaign did not mean Muhammadiyah was telling people to stop smoking or banning tobacco cultivation. “But we want people to smoke in the right place. Not in public facility areas.”

Syafiq, who is a professor at the Sunan Ampel Islamic State Institute (IAIN) in Surabaya, said Muhammadiyah understood there would always be people breaking the rules, but officials would not halt their efforts to enforce the regulation.

When coming out with a fatwa against smoking for its followers last year, Muhammadiyah equated smoking to suicide, something sinful in Islam.

Syafiq said the non-smoking zones in Muhammadiyah premises would be applicable to all, members or not.

Zainuddin Maliki, rector of Muhammadiyah University in Surabaya, said the new rule would increase pressure on smokers. But, he added, “It won’t be a problem for us. At our university, we banned smoking some time ago.”

While Muhammadiyah takes a tough stand against smoking, the country’s largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, is not likely to follow suit.

NU has defined smoking as makruh, or a habit that is best avoided but does not constitute a sin. Unlike Muhammadiyah, it never has issued a fatwa against smoking.

The Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), however, has declared smoking to be haram, or forbidden, in public places, for pregnant women and for children. The MUI is the country’s highest authority on Islamic affairs and includes representatives of Muhammadiyah and NU.

NU deputy chairman Slamet Effendy Yusuf told the Globe that the group applauded Muhammadiyah’s move. “The thing with NU is, our senior clerics, most of them are heavy smokers,” he said. “We couldn’t even stop some of our students in Islamic boarding schools from smoking. But we are going to try,” he said.

Douglas Bettcher, the director of the World Health Organization’s Tobacco Free Initiative, has said that low taxes, low prices and the lack of graphic warnings on Indonesian cigarette packaging were contributing to a pro-smoking environment in the country.

An estimated 200,000 Indonesians die each year from tobacco-related illnesses.

Anti-tobacco activists have accused the government of being reluctant to impose strict controls on tobacco because the industry generates significant tax revenue and is one of the nation’s major employers.

( x the JG)

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