Deconstructing the tobacco tax reform debate in Indonesia utilizing discourse network analysis
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Center for Indonesia's Strategic Development Initiatives, Indonesia
Lara Rizka   

Center for Indonesia's Strategic Development Initiatives, Indonesia
Publication date: 2021-09-02
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2021;19(Suppl 1):A54
After 4 years of modest tariff increase and 1 year with no increase, in October 2019, Indonesian Government made a quite bold move to increase tobacco tax 23% higher in average. Although this increase might not be considered as significant in international comparison, for Indonesia, this is the highest tobacco tax increase in history. However, the percentage of tariff increase might not translate into reduced affordability as its main objective because of the complex structure of Indonesian cigarette tax which currently comprises of 10 tiers of cigarette product. The effort to simplify the structure was implemented back in 2017, with the inclusion of simplification roadmap in the Minister of Finance regulation on tobacco excise tariff, however, after one year, the roadmap is deleted and not yet included in the newest regulation.

This study aims to map the arguments and actors involved in the debate. The final decision made was strongly correlated with the public discourse that can be seen in the media. A wave of statements against the simplification of tobacco tax structure was raised in the media before the regulation was established.

Utilising database of media monitoring regarding tobacco in Indonesia, we analyse the content of the articles regarding tariff increase and tiers simplification. We categorise the statements on tobacco taxation using Discourse Network Analysis and from the categorization, we can map out how the discourse constructed.

From the analysis of the argument related to tiers simplification controversies, we learned that this policy change is less publicly discussed in comparison to tobacco tax tariff. However, simplification attracts numerous new actors to take a side on the debates. Some actors that previously gave contra statements on tariff increase actually support the tiers simplification.

This analysis is an important consideration to develop and modify the key messaging of tobacco tax advocacy.