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Indonesian capital bans smoking in public places
JAKARTA (AFP) Feb 04, 2005
Legislators in the Indonesian capital on Friday passed a law banning smoking in public places as part of efforts to combat pollution in one of the world's most polluted cities.

According to the new law, a person caught smoking in public places such as restaurants, parks and public transport will be fined 50 million rupiahdollars) or left to languish in jail for six months.

Some Jakartans expressed doubts that the ban would be strictly enforced, arguing that other laws aimed at making the capital more orderly had been ignored.

"People refuse to use pedestrian bridges to cross even though there are officers around. Do you expect the same officers to stop people from smoking?" one resident wrote to the Detikcom news website.

Smoking comes close to being a national pastime for many in Jakarta. Some 70 percent of the country's 213 million people smoke, its cigarette firms are stock market leaders and 57,000 deaths a year are blamed on tobacco.

In another move to curb pollution in Jakarta, city councillors this week agreed to set limits on vehicle emissions but dropped plans to ban ageing cars and buses from roads despite pressure from officials and environmentalists.

Elderly buses, packed so tightly that passengers are forced to hang from the doors, are one of the more unattractive features of city life. Unlike most other major Asian cities, Jakarta has no subway or light railway.

The Asian Development Bank last year said hazardous urban pollution levels in Indonesia costs the country 400 million dollars a year. It said the figure could increase tenfold by 2010 without environmental improvements.

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