Anti-Smoking Squads Slam Big Tobacco in Indonesia for Veiled Marketing of Tobacco and Cigarettes

Anti-Smoking Squads Slam Big Tobacco in Indonesia

Groups that favor anti-smoking in Indonesia slammed Big Tobacco on August 2, 2017, as the tobacco firm promoted its sale by offering cash rewards, shopping vouchers, and money to retailers, urging the authorities to impose advertising curbs to prevent public health. Indonesia stands amongst the countries with highest smoking rates across the globe. The country has a national regulation and law formulated to limit cigarette ads, including a ban on any tobacco firm that promotes its products as a sponsor. But it is contradictorily imposed by some regional authorities.

The anti-smoking groups quoted that cigarette manufacturers are trying to gain as much benefit of this situation as they can, by collaborating with small retailers and offering them rewards for promoting their products in-store. A study undertaken by the Indonesian Public Health Association (IAKMI) shows that many cigarette companies have increased veiled promotions of their products following the action taken by Jakarta governor to ban any kind of outdoor media or cigarette advertising in 2015.

Head of the tobacco control unit in IAMKI, Widyastuti Soerojo said that “their grip is going to get stronger in future and cigarette consumption is predicted to spread.” An owner of a shop in Tangerang, western Jakarta, quoted that being a Sampoerna partner, he is bound to follow the display requirements given by the company for its goods and is not permitted to sell any other cigarette brand at his shop.

In return, the company offered him (US$75) a million rupiah to paint his shop, free cigarette packs, shopping vouchers, and banners. He declined to be as he did not have the authority to interact with media. Head of the Lanterns in a Children Foundation, Lisda Sundari said that advertisements of cigarettes are usually found at shops close to schools. This makes the children more vulnerable towards smoking.

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