In Indonesia, what options are available for smokers? Tobacco, vapes, and e-cigarettes

Not the most pleasant news for tobacco enthusiasts. In 2023, the Indonesian Ministry of Finance decided to increase the excise tax and the cost of tobacco products by an average of 12 percent. According to the government, higher prices are intended to reduce tobacco consumption and protect children from smoking. Whether they will succeed or not remains to be seen, but for now, let's try to understand what the tobacco market in Indonesia offers, how it operates, and whether it's worth trying local cigarette brands.
In Indonesia, tobacco grows exceptionally well, so most of the world's cigarette brands are produced here using local raw materials. The demand for cigarettes in the country is very high: according to statistics, 61 percent of the male population smokes, which is not surprising since religion prohibits drinking for most Indonesians. Indonesia is the second-largest tobacco market in Asia after China and the third-largest consumer of cigarettes after China and India. Tobacco cultivation is one of the main occupations of local farmers, along with rice cultivation, but people smoke so much here that there's still not enough local tobacco, and significant quantities have to be imported from China, Brazil, and even the USA.
In Indonesia, most well-known global cigarette brands from Philip Morris and JP Tobacco are available. However, their taste will likely differ from what you are accustomed to in your country, and if you don't like the new flavor, you can always turn to local brands. There are several major cigarette companies in Indonesia, such as the largest - HM Sampoerna, Gudang Garam, Bentoel, and Wismilak. They produce a range of popular cigarette brands in the country: Garam, Sampoerna, Djarum, Bentoel, Surya.
Most of the cigarettes beloved by Indonesians contain clove, called "kretek" in Indonesian. They use approximately 70 percent tobacco and 30 percent clove seeds and clove oil. If you haven't tried them, it's worth it. At the very least, they crackle funnily with sparks during smoking and add a quite interesting flavor. Also, many, if not most, Indonesian cigarettes have sweetened paper on the filter, making the taste of the cigarette even more pleasant, well, if you like the taste of burning cloves at all. Indonesian cigarettes are also renowned for their abundance of tar and nicotine. Not the healthiest quality, but where there are cigarettes, there is no concern for health? Nevertheless, for an unprepared smoker, smoking a Gudang Garam cigarette from a pack at once can be quite challenging.
In general, finding cigarettes to suit your taste on the island is easy, whether it's classic Marlboro with Camel or Indonesian kretek style. Their cost doesn't differ much from the place of purchase - Indomart, Circle K, or a supermarket in a shopping center. Approximate prices for Marlboro are around 37k, Camel - 30k, one of the most common local cigarettes - L.A. - 27k, and Gudang Garam - 24 thousand rupiahs. Although you can always try Tokopedia for wholesale orders or for smoking in industrial quantities. There, by the way, you can find cigarettes from different countries, for example, genuine Japanese Marlboro or Brazilian Camel. In general, there's a lot of exotic options, but of course, it's not a cheap pleasure - starting from 100k per pack.
The standard cigarette selection in Indomaret stores.
If you decide to bring tobacco products into the country yourself or ask friends to do so, be aware that there are restrictions on tobacco imports: 200 cigarettes, 25 cigars, or 200 grams of tobacco.
In addition to classic cigarettes, self-rolled cigarettes are popular in Indonesia, along with various tobacco and papers - available on Tokopedia and in stores like Minimart and Circle K. There, you can usually buy papers, filters, and rolling machines. The selection of tobacco and flavors is quite wide - from local brands to global ones, such as DRUM, Rizla, Golden Virginia. Interestingly, tobacco from local brands like Dji Sam Soe, Gudang Garam, Wismilak is often produced in a kretek style, meaning it includes clove.
Cigar and cigarillo enthusiasts won't be disappointed either: in Bali, there are plenty of shops where you can purchase cigars from different countries, catering to various tastes and budgets. For example, Pradna Cigar, Bali Cigar House, Bako Dewata Kuta Tobacco & Cigar Shop. A more or less complete list can always be found on Google, and let's not forget about Tokopedia – where you can find practically everything in any situation, understandable or not, and usually at a lower price than in retail stores. Besides Tokopedia, Shopee, Bli-bli, and Lazada are popular in Indonesia. If you're looking for something and can't find it, try searching on all these platforms.
Now a few words about e-cigarettes and vapes. They are not yet prohibited in Indonesia, although discussions about regulating this market occasionally arise at the top. There is a significant number of brands available, including iQOS, FOOM JUUL, Vype, Joyetech. The market is quite dynamic; for example, currently, the Relx brand is one of the most affordable, offering various flavors with prices starting from 150k and cartridge costs from 90k. The SMOK Novo Pod, priced from 200k, and Kuy Pods, around 170k, are also quite popular. All of them have a wide range of flavors, charge via USB, and are, to the extent possible, considered safe for health as they do not contain tobacco tar mixtures.
In general, there's always something to lift in Indonesia; tobacco product prices are still quite affordable, even with the increase in excise taxes, and the quality of tobacco is also at a reasonably high level. And if you ever get tired of smoking, there's always Alan Carr.
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