Stop Cigarette Advertising in Indonesia!
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“It is important to know as much as possible about teenage smoking patterns and attitudes. Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer and the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while in their teens...”
-Myron E. Johnston, Philip Morris researcher
March 31, 1981
We are the young people who love Indonesia. The progress of this country has to be made together, not alone.
We are concerned with the high amount of smokers in Indonesia, and the disregard for health. With the tobacco industry rampant in Indonesia, it is sometimes difficult to know where to begin to impact change. Cigarette advertising in Indonesia is massive and particularly effective in seducing Indonesia’s youth to become the next generation of “replacement” smokers.
The tobacco industry uses all types of advertisements to promote their products. They use print media, online andoutdoor media including billboards and videotrons.
The weakness in our laws, including Rule No. 19/2003 about health still allows the tobacco industry to advertise their addictive products using any and all forms of media (Article 16, Paragraph 1). The only real limitation is that advertising airtime on television only lasts from 21:30-5:00 (Article 16, Paragraph 3). Additionally these television ads may not depict a person smoking, or images of cigarettes (Article 17). In reality, these restrictions aren’t effective in restricting cigarette advertising, and only give the tobacco industry free reign to use creativity and other means necessary. See evidence of that here.
In Indonesia, 31.5 percent of teens start smoking at 15 years old, and 1.9 percent start at as young as 4 years old. An overwhelming amount of teens, 46.3 percent, believe that cigarette advertisements had a big influence in their decision to start smoking. Another 29 percent of teen smokers light up when they see the ads if they weren’t already smoking. Exposure to cigarette ads everywhere, since a young age, also normalizes smoking, and gives kids and teens the mindset that smokers are cool.
In reality, there is nowhere for children to hide from cigarette advertising. They are exposed to advertisements anywhere and everwhere, walking to school, around school grounds, on the side of the road, in shops near their homes, at parks, malls, sporting fields, and other recreational spaces.It’s not uncommon to find a child or teen smoking in alleyways, even those under 5 years old.
Minister Tif Sembiring, do you want to be forever known as the “Baby Smoker Country”? Are you not embarassed that Indonesia is home to child smokers? Is it not enough that we are only third behind China and India with the highest amount of smokers in the world? Is it not enough that one-third of indonesia’s population are loyal customers to the tobacco industry?
We can stop our younger brothers and sisters from starting to smoke with a total ban of cigarette advertising.
If Indonesia bans cigarette advertising now, we can wipe our country clean of the product promotions that are harmful to our health. We cannot simply sacrifice our children, the targets of cigarette advertising. We need to defend them from the industry so that they don’t become “new loyal customers.” Indonesia cannot lag behind our neighboring countries, whose governments have chosen the health of their people instead of the wealth of the tobacco industry. Our neighbors Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, the Phillippines, Cambodia and Laos have all implemented advertising bans.
We request, with all due respect, for the Ministry of Communications of Indonesia to implement a total ban of cigarette advertising in all media forms. We would also like to request Jakarta, which has not yet given permission to ban billboards and videotrons, to no longer allow these forms of outdoor media which are easily seen from our cars, buses and motorbikes. Jakarta, as our capital city, should serve as an example for Indonesian cities in taking the first step of action. Our goal is that indonesia’s children not become pawns of the tobacco industry, and the next generation of smokers.
Protecting children and adolescents from the effects of tobacco is a sound investment for our nation. Stop cigarette advertising now for the future of Indonesia.
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